Monday, January 15, 2024

Snipers, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

WMG Publishing, 2013

In the winter of 1913, Vienna Police Detective Johann Runge investigates the murders of two men in a cafe--Lev Bronstein and Viktor Adler. It's puzzling enough to start with, but it's soon followed by more sniper killings. Soon five men are dead, some famous, some unknown--at least in 1913.

In Vienna in 2005, bestselling crime writer Sofie Branstadter is researching what she intends to be the definitive book on the still unsolved Carnival Sniper killings. As she does her research, we gradually realize that Sofie isn't living in the same timeline we are. This timeline had The Great War, lasting ten years, and no Second World War. The League of Nations survived, and international politics is quite different. What happened?

We follow Johann Runge's 1913 investigation, and Sofie Branstadter's 2005 research--and the sniper himself. Runge is an early advocate of what's now consider just good crime scene management, and annoys his fellow police immensely. Both he and Branstadter discover evidence that makes no sense. A deceptively lightweight plastic gun; bullets with a tungsten core and a strangely tough, thin, plastic coating. An item that the sniper calls a handheld. An even stranger sphere, that Runge suspects is a weapon of some kind, but can't identify. Branstadter, working with a civilian crime lab, learns that it's radioactive, but still doesn't immediately realize what it is. The different history had an impact on the direction of physics and weapons research.

The question of course is, what is the sniper's motive? We know, from the sections told from his viewpoint, that he has a mission, but we only begin to suspect what it really is when learn who is less obvious targets are.

Along the way, we also learn how very personal the research for this particular book is for Sofie Branstadter.

Interesting story, interesting characters, interesting complexities. Snipers kept me completely absorbed.

1 comment:

  1. Loved your amazon review of bark and snark!