It started as nothing more than a one-night stand . . .
Justine is an A-list fashion model on a photo shoot in Europe. Adored by half the world, she can have whomever she wants, but she’s never met anyone like the strange English girl whose bed she wakes up in one morning.
Vienna is an autistic savant, adrift in a world of overwhelming patterns and connections only she can see. Socially awkward and inexperienced, she’s never been with anyone before, let alone a glamorous supermodel enmeshed in a web of secrets and intrigue.
When Justine’s current beau is murdered in the bathroom of her hotel room, she suddenly finds herself thrown into the middle of a deadly conspiracy focusing on a set of antique wooden mannikins—the same ones that are the centerpieces of the photo shoot.
What secret do the mannikins hide, and why is it worth killing over?
Drawn together by an attraction neither of them can explain, Justine and Vienna are pursued across Europe by paparazzi, tabloid headlines . . . and the mystery of Vienna’s own shadowy past, which holds the key to everything.
Worldbuilding: If you love European settings, Vienna is the novel for you. The adventures of our MCs take us through a few very interesting European countries, and the glamorous world of a very successful model meets the even more exciting world of potentially royal intrigue & conspiracy.
Characters: Vienna and Justine were so very interesting. Vienna is a Sherlock/Watson reinterpretation, and as you guys know I’m a rabid Sherlock fan. William S. Kirby reinterprets the awesomesauce duo and does one better, setting them up as a couple – and the power figure is the Watson-ian one. Vienna’s brilliant eidetic memory and savant connections between apparently unrelated things is a step beyond Sherlock, or perhaps the view from inside Sherlock’s mind while it’s functioning, in a way. For someone as fascinated with the concept of brilliant minds as I am, this novel is a godsend. You could hardly have me more interested than this, pretty much. Vienna’s Asperger-ian and her eidetic memory make her even more hardcore than Sherlock, in all things. Everything seen through her eyes, processed by her mind, was incredibly interesting and utterly fascinating for me.
Justine, the Watson-ian figure in our case, was a stronger presence than I might have expected, actually grounding Vienna, protecting her, loving her and caring for her at every step. I found Justine to be immeasurably interesting on her own, the ravishing beauty, the killer smarts coupled with a healthy sense of adventure and thirst for diversity made her into a highly charismatic character. Coupled with Vienna’s magnetism (and with Vienna herself 😀 ), she was simply irresistible. The complex dynamics between then, their couple, their love story and the passion between then, all the doubts and questions and angst that came with the pack, made this story a roller-coaster of a mystery.
I loved them together as a couple, they had this deep, complex chemistry that simply swept you off your feet. Delightful, to say the least.
Plot: The romantic arc, a very gusty and interesting endeavor all on its own, was completed by a provocative mystery, complete with royal intrigues, conspiracies, and historical facts to further the effect. The tempo of the story was alert, but not rabid, and the happy ending was delightful.
Writing: Third person, past tense narrative from Vienna and Justine’s POV. I can’t say how much I loved their voices, especially Vienna’s. I also loved descriptions and the general style of the novel, the sophistication of it.
Curb Appeal: Cool cover, but the blurb had me instantly sold. I’m a Sherlock sucker forever, and this novel delivers on the fantasy all of us Sherlocked fans foster, the Sherlock/Watson affair. Hurrah!
All in all, I highly recommend Vienna to lovers of mystery with a spice of royal intrigue/conspiracies, to lovers of diversity and Sherlock-concept enthusiasts such as I am. You’ll laugh, you’ll feel like crying, you’ll cringe and get angry and smile at the end of the ride. And you won’t forget it anytime soon. Quality reading experience, big like!