cover image Fatal Lies

Fatal Lies

Frank Tallis, Author . Random $15 (448p) ISBN 978-0-8129-7777-

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 “übermensch” theory inspires one student's brutalities. Several late twists lead to a startling resolution of this compelling tale. (Mar.)