In the sequel to Habsburg Honor and Nazi Duty (2014), two adversaries/colleagues again form a prickly alliance, this time on the hunt for a Nazi rocket scientist at the end of World War II.
Stephan Kaas is in Soviet-controlled Vienna trying to find and deliver a Nazi rocket scientist to the Americans, which, Kaas hopes, will help him earn a new life, burying his Hitler-era past. But he has to outfox the Soviets, who, wanting the scientist just as badly, know Kaas is the link to finding the scientist. The love lives of Kaas and former Vienna police inspector Karl Marbach also intersect, with the discovery that Anna, the woman they both loved, has survived the war but is terribly burnt. Repelled by this, Kaas turns away from Anna, but when the Soviets take her hostage—a ploy to force Kaas to disclose the scientist’s location—Marbach is on hand to help find her. Adding to the danger are the Werewolves: bitter Nazis who kidnap Marbach. A British and an American officer greatly help Kaas and Marbach, but the officers have to work carefully because the Russians are intensely suspicious of their capitalist enemies. The action in Joyce’s (Vienna: Years Ago, 2014) novel takes place against a vivid depiction of the tension and fear in post–World War II Vienna. The two Vienna protagonists also have to wrestle with their differing views of honor, the main theme of the story. Marbach is steadfastly honest and fair, whereas Kaas is happy to lie and even beat people up to achieve his aims. Unfortunately, this intriguing theme is lost in a swirl of multiple plots that can leave the reader bewildered. Character development suffers as critical moments are brushed over, even in the mission to catch the scientist.
A step down from the first novel.