Synopses & Reviews
The eagerly awaited third novel in the Max Liebermann series — literature's first psychoanalytic detective — is about sex, the will to power and deception.
Vienna, 1903. In the rambling hillside edifice that is St. Florian's military school, a young cadet is found dead, his body lacerated with razor wounds. Once again, Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt calls on his friend — and disciple of Freud — Doctor Max Liebermann, to help him investigate.
In the closed society of the school, power is everything, and suspicion falls on an elite group of cadets with a penchant for sadism and dangerous games. When it is discovered that the dead boy was a frequent guest of the deputy headmaster's attractive wife, other motives for murder suggest themselves.
A tangled web of relationships and dark secrets is uncovered, which Liebermann, using new psychoanalytic tools such as dream interpretation and the ink-blot test, begins to probe. At the same time, he finds himself romantically involved with a mysterious Hungarian concert violinist, Trezska Novak, a woman gifted with uncannily accurate intuitions. Again, all is not what it seems, and Liebermann is drawn into the perilous world of espionage. The choices he is forced to make will threaten the entire stability of the Habsburg Empire.
"St. Florian's Military Academy outside Vienna serves as the forbidding backdrop for Tallis's stellar third historical to feature Insp. Oskar Rheinhardt and Dr. Max Liebermann (after 2008's Vienna Blood). Harshly ruled by headmaster Julius Eichmann, St. Florian's is the scene of bizarre initiation rites some involving torture, and murder. The body of the most recent victim, a 15-year-old Czech boy, has numerous cuts and lacerations across his arms and torso. During their meticulous inquiries at St. Florian's, Rheinhardt and Liebermann learn of illicit liaisons among female staff and sex-starved students and also between an elusive math teacher and the murdered boy. The thinkers and writers of early 20th-century Vienna play their parts, including Liebermann's idol, Sigmund Freud, and philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, whose 'bermensch' theory inspires one student's brutalities. Several late twists lead to a startling resolution of this compelling tale." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Tallis has crafted an intricate, taut, and compelling plot, with an ending that is as shocking as it is inevitable....Another outstanding entry in an erudite and mesmerizing series; a must for historical-mystery devotees." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Tallis' elegant prose aptly evokes the period. He explores his protagonists' depths and again offers a strong flavor of contemporary arts, science and social history. On balance, an absorbing historical novel first and a mystery second." Kirkus Reviews
Frank Tallis is a writer and practicing clinical psychologist. He is the author of two previous Dr. Max Liebermann novels: Vienna Blood and A Death In Vienna.
A dogged police inspector and an insightful young psychiatrist match wits with depraved criminal minds in this acclaimed mystery series set in Freud's Vienna.