In the grip of a Siberian winter in 1902, a serial killer in Vienna embarks upon a bizarre campaign of murder. Vicious mutilation, a penchant for arcane symbols, and a seemingly random choice of victim are his most distinctive peculiarities. Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt summons a young disciple of Freud - his friend Dr. Max Liebermann — to assist him with the case. The investigation draws them into the sphere of Vienna’s secret societies — a murky underworld of German literary scholars, race theorists, and scientists inspired by the new evolutionary theories coming out of England. At first, the killer’s mind seems impenetrable — his behaviour and cryptic clues impervious to psychoanalytic interpretation; however, gradually, it becomes apparent that an extraordinary and shocking rationale underlies his actions. . . .The historical research is very good.
One thing that struck me throughout the book was the author's extensive but not ostentatious vocabulary. It is rare I come across any words with which I am unfamiliar. In this book, eight.
Here are the words with which I was unfamiliar. Some I can surmise something related to their meaning, either from memory or semantic structure. The others? No idea.
Tatterdemalion - ragged?Here are their meanings courtesy of Merriam Webster.
Penumbral - Having to do with a cloud?
Spatulate - broad and flat, spade like?
Murine - having to do with mice?
Crepitating - dying?
Tatterdemalion - a person dressed in ragged clothing
Tintinnabulary - of, relating to, or characterized by bells or their sounds
1a : a space of partial illumination (as in an eclipse) between the perfect shadow on all sides and the full light
b : a shaded region surrounding the dark central portion of a sunspot
2: a surrounding or adjoining region in which something exists in a lesser degree : fringe
3: a body of rights held to be guaranteed by implication in a civil constitution
4: something that covers, surrounds, or obscures : shroud
Proscenium - the part of a stage that is in front of the curtain
Spatulate - shaped like a spatula
Borborygmus - intestinal rumbling caused by moving gas
Murine - of or relating to a murid genus (Mus) or its subfamily (Murinae) which includes the common household rats and mice; also : of, relating to, or involving these rodents and especially the house mouse
Crepitating - to make a crackling sound