And here we are with the latest in the series of novels originally labelled The Liebermann Papers, which started with Mortal Mischief and led up to last year’s Darkness Rising. It’s much the same as before – murders in Vienna which need to be solved by Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt and his psychiatrist friend Max Liebermann with the increasing aid of Amelia Lydgate.
The twist this time is that the series of murders appear to be the work of a sexually-motivated person with a fixation on death, something that’s familiar in the modern world, but little-known in early 20th Century Vienna. There’s the usual danger to Max, who has the usual confrontation with the killer, Sigmund Freud appears as always, and it’s the usual page-turning fun and mind games.
But there’s more this time. The usual third person, multiple viewpoint narrative is interspersed with what we soon realise is the killer’s own story, from his childhood to his crimes, but something is wrong. Could there be someone else with a secret worth killing for?
I’ll freely admit to being hooked on detective fiction set in this era. I blame it on an early exposure to Sherlock Holmes, but there is something fascinating about the period, when scientific methods are slowly entering into the work of the detectives, and all manner of social changes are in progress. It helps if there’s a good story as well as lots of period and location detail – Tallis is particularly good on the subject of Viennese coffee and cakes – and this series certainly qualifies.
Good fun. If you haven’t read the earlier books, I suggest you track them down – you’ll probably find used copies for not very much, or try your local library. If you have read the earlier books, you’ll definitely want to catch this one, too.
 I recently re-read the full set again, in a lovely out-of-print annotated edition.
I found myself dragged into the bizarre mess known as Facebook, because it’s become the only way some people communicate these days. Mutter, mutter, what’s wrong with email, etc? Anyway, as Facebook has grown, a number of problems have arisen. First there are the users who get dreadfully upset at any change made to the interface. They really need to understand that they are not Facebook’s customers – they are (as someone I can’t remember said somewhere I can’t remember) the product that Facebook delivers to its customers – the advertisers. Of course, anyone with any sense will be using a browser that blocks adverts, so the product actually being delivered is a very special subset of the users, but never mind.
The other problem with Facebook is that it breaks. A lot. This is no doubt a consequence of scaling a service to millions of users that was originally designed for students at one US University. Replication between servers sometimes breaks, leading to people thinking their comments have disappeared, so they post them again, just in time for the original to “come back” on the next page refresh. But sometimes the breakage is actually quite entertaining:
Yup. I commented on a friend’s post, someone else added a comment afterwards (identity hidden because I’m nice). But note the times. If a comment made at any time after 18:24 today was made 10 hours ago, then the time must be after 28:24 today. So I can only assume that Facebook really is run from a different planet…
 Or something. My memory does that
 I think it was on the internet somewhere. That should narrow it down for you
 So that’s not IE…
While it’s far too early in the day to get into a serious discussion of the many worlds hypothesis, it can be an interesting way of looking at things. The idea that your life branches off from every decision you make (or every event that affects you, for that matter) is an interesting one, leading to the notion of an infinity of parallel worlds where there are other versions of you whose circumstances may be completely different. Yous that are richer, healthier and happier, and of course yous who are worse of than you. Or dead. And all because you can never really know where a decision (go to that job interview or stay in bed, stay in, go out, that sort of thing) might lead you.
All of which random muttering leads me to today’s xkcd, which deals with that uncertainty in just the way you wouldn’t predict:
As always, click to see it all. Nice mouseover text, too.
 7:07am, thanks for asking
 Smug gits that they are
 As in Pulp’s quite marvellous Something Changed