I cannot recall ever reading a book with such a sensual, sense-ful, scent-ful opening. The tastes and sights and sounds enveloped me as a reader drawing me into Vienna and its streets, cafes and churches. I can smell espresso, then I can taste the Guglehupf. I feel the wind on my cheek and the bustle of people on their way to goodness knows where. It is enchantingly delightful. Malby should be asked by the Vienna tourist board to promote their city. And that is only after the first two chapters!
I haven’t even mentioned the dead body, found by our protagonist Leisl, on Stephansplatz underground steps, as if it were the most natural of things to discover. Well it was where she was told it would be. But who by? And what of the broach and the note she took from the body? Art thief by career, Liesl finds herself in a terrifying world of murder and deception in this well-researched, beautifully written thriller. She is a hero we root for, despite her criminal behaviour, as she goes on an adrenalin-running-high escapade as she seeks the truth. To Malby’s credit. I found myself in the streets and buildings of Vienna, described with the minimum of fuss, but described in such a way that I felt I was part of the city, part of the chase and totally enmeshed in the plot.
I hope this is the first in a series as there is room for so much more.