VIENNA by William S. Kirby


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A chance—or is it?—meeting in a Brussels club leads to a strange love affair between two women as the pair is plunged into a trans-European treasure hunt.

In Kirby's debut, high-end American fashion model Justine Am finds herself inexplicably attracted to Vienna, a shy, socially awkward British girl she sleeps with following a bet with friends. While terms like "autistic savant" and "eidetic memory" are tossed around to describe Vienna's uncanny abilities—she's able to rattle off spools of information based on a single word, much like a human Wikipedia—her condition is frustratingly never made clear. When Justine's bad-boy boyfriend, Grant Eriksson, is found murdered in his hotel bathroom, Justine doesn't make the connection to her latest fashion shoot, "Clay to Flesh," where the models pose with eerily lifelike wooden mannequins, until Vienna notices a discrepancy in the size of the mannequins. This prompts the pair, who are both under police scrutiny for Grant's murder, to dig deeper into the rich history of the mannequins, where they discover that the prized pieces contain clues to the location of the equivalent of the Habsburg Empire's Holy Grail, a gem known as the Star of Memphis. Luckily, Justine has seemingly limitless financial resources, allowing the two to hopscotch around the continent in pursuit of the gem, all the while trying to avoid the expected henchmen intent on killing them.

Borrowing loosely from Conan Doyle, with Vienna's Holmes-ian mind and a plot similar to "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons," Kirby crafts an entertaining if sometimes-meandering tale.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-7653-7583-4
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2015


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