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The Hapsburg Variation

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Eight years into his career with the CIA, Karl Baier once again finds himself on the front line of the Cold War. He is stationed in Vienna in the spring of 1955 as Austria and the four Allied Powers are set to sign the State Treaty, which will return Austria’s independence, end the country’s post-war occupation, and hopefully reduce tensions in the heart of Europe. But the Treaty will also establish Austrian neutrality, and many in the West fear it will secure Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe and create a permanent division. Asked to help investigate the death of an Austrian aristocrat and Wehrmacht veteran, Baier discovers an ambitious plan not only to block the State Treaty, but also to subvert Soviet rule in lands of the old Hapsburg Empire. Then Baier’s wife is kidnapped, and the mission becomes intensely personal. Many of his basic assumptions are challenged, and he discovers that he cannot count on loyalties, even back home in Washington, D.C. At each maddening turn in the investigation, another layer must be peeled away. Even if Baier succeeds in rescuing his wife, he faces the unenviable task of unraveling an intricate web of intrigue that reaches far back into the complicated history of Central Europe. Book 2 in the Cold War Thriller series, which began with Tears of Innocence.


Published November 15, 2017

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About the author

Bill Rapp

14 books11 followers
I may have spent the last thirty-five years as a diplomat/analyst working for the federal government, but I began my adult life as a professional historian. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a B.A. in History and German, I received my M.A. in European History from the University of Toronto and a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. I taught history at Iowa State University for one year but then decided to shift my efforts to something less settled and moved to Washington, D.C. That career has taken me to Berlin, Ottawa, Baghdad, and now London, with long stays in Washington in between.

Through it all I never lost my love of history and literature, especially crime fiction, which I often read to take a break from all the history books I had to study for my course work, thesis, and dissertation. Fortunately, I was able to apply that affinity for our past throughout my career with the government, while it also inspired much of my writing. You can see that, for example, in the Berlin novels, especially Tears of Innocence, as I spent several years there as a student and later as a diplomat during the fall of the Wall and Germany's reunification. Even the Naperville private detective series (Angel in Black, A Pale Rain, and Burning Altars) draws on the local history and development of the Chicago area, just as Raymond Chandler and Ross MacDonald--the two paragons of American detective fiction, in my eyes--did in their novels and stories set in southern California.

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Displaying 1 - 2 of 2 reviews
Profile Image for Juliet Waldron.
Author 21 books35 followers
November 6, 2017
This is the second book in a series and I liked it well enough to eventually look up the first one and check it out too. It begins with a dead body, as all proper thrillers do, lying beside the Danube. It's the mid-fifties, and the 4 powers are just about to leave Vienna and the Austrians to their own devices. Outside, the Iron Curtain is going up, and it's spy v. spy v. spy--British, American, French, Soviets, Germans--and some players you can't recognize without a playbook. Fortunately, the author has one, as does his hero, a tough CIA operative with a German wife, both of whom, played the game during the war years and know the score. The beginning to the middle was an engaging and fast read, then it began to bog down with one too many circular conversations in which I couldn't quite believe. Perhaps the author was in a bit of a hurry to finish this one--the denouement (for me) fell flat.
Profile Image for Roxanne Dunn.
Author 3 books52 followers
October 30, 2021
An intriguing spy story in which the only thing the characters know for certain is that things are not as they seem.
Displaying 1 - 2 of 2 reviews

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