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Vienna, winter 2026. A place filled with post-millennial excess: pollution, neo-Nazis, designer drugs, holographic TV, and ultra-intelligent environments. When a commodities broker named Leo Detmers winds up dead—the victim of a seemingly random traffic accident—his pregnant widow, Petra, turns to a tabloid columnist named Sharkey to look into what she believes was a calculated murder. But just who was Leo Detmers and who would want him dead? Beginning with a graffiti message on the wall of Leo’s apartment, Sharkey peels back the layers of Leo’s life and death, each revealing a larger, more chilling design. As he attempts to link puzzling coincidences and perilous secrets, Sharkey soon realizes he’s in over his head, party to a conspiracy with roots in Vienna’s dark past that could change the world forever.
When an old woman storms into the Rijks Museum demanding the return of her painting, archivist Ruth Braams cannot quell her curiosity. Together with Myles, her gay confidant, Ruth delves into the history of the piece of looted Nazi art and discovers an enigmatic picture with a disturbing wartime provenance. It also appears that the elderly Lydia is not the only claimant and, against strict bureau regulations, Ruth endeavours to help strengthen her case. Days later, Ruth begins to receive sinister anonymous threats, warning her to stay away from Lydia and the painting. When the door of her home, a houseboat on the Bloemgracht canal, is covered in graffiti and her gas supply tampered with, Ruth is convinced these are deterrents from the rival claimant. Our irrepressible and emotionally troubled heroine refuses to take them at face value and continues to strike up a friendship with the lonely old lady. But as the threats escalate, Ruth realises that there must be far more to the painting’s popularity, and she enters into a series of increasingly lethal adventures as she investigates the painting’s secret symbolism…