you read A DEATH IN VIENNA by Frank Tallis, you will be pleased to
know that 1) VIENNA BLOOD is a sequel to that gripping work and 2)
it is worth the wait. If you did not read A DEATH IN VIENNA ---
Tallis’s introduction to Dr. Max Liebermann and Detective
Oskar Rheinhardt, set in Vienna at the beginning of the 20th
century --- I would recommend doing so before undertaking VIENNA
BLOOD, given that the latter flows from the former, and
majestically so. It will increase your appreciation of the new
VIENNA BLOOD is set in 1902, and finds the personal and
professional relationship between Liebermann and Rheinhardt intact.
While A DEATH IN VIENNA focused on a lock-room murder, VIENNA BLOOD
concerns Liebermann’s investigation into a series of
particularly brutal killings that are tangentially linked, though
the victims appear to be unrelated. While Tallis’s
investigative pair possesses some minor similarities to Conan
Doyle’s archetypal Holmes and Watson, Liebermann and
Rheinhardt are on much more equal footing intellectually. Indeed,
it is through Rheinhardt’s intervention that
Liebermann’s talents as a psychiatric expert are brought into
the mix, even as there is a tacit and subtle, though friendly,
one-upsmanship that informs their investigations.
However, it is not Liebermann’s medical skills that provide
the turning point in Rheinhardt’s investigation. Rather, it
is an event in his personal life, one that not only puts the team
on the road toward solving the case but also begins the resolution
of a problem of Liebermann’s own creation.
As with A DEATH IN VIENNA, there are a number of suspects of equal
possibility, yet the truly magnificent and riveting elements of
VIENNA BLOOD dip and swirl around Vienna itself. Tallis brings the
time and place alive, down to the last nuance, yet without
sacrificing plot or characterization. The return of a number of
supporting characters (including a couple of unexpected ones)
introduced in A DEATH IN VIENNA serves not only to provide
continuity but also fodder, apparently, for future volumes.
VIENNA BLOOD more than sustains the momentum created by
Tallis’s first Vienna novel, even as it makes the potential
wait for a third installment all the more excruciating. Jump on
this beautiful ride now while the journey is just beginning.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 24, 2011