The best novels that are set in Vienna and will create a lifelong love for the city

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of the Herringford and Watts mysteries, the Van Buren and DeLuca mysteries, and the Three Quarter Time series of contemporary Viennese-set romances. I am also the author of The London Restoration. My non-fiction includes Dream, Plan and Go: A Travel Guide to Inspire Independent Adventure and A Very Merry Holiday Movie Guide. I live in Toronto, Canada.


I wrote...

The Mozart Code

By Rachel McMillan,

Book cover of The Mozart Code

What is my book about?

Lady Sophia Huntington Villiers works with Alan Turing’s Bombe Machines at Bletchley Park during the war attests. As part of Simon Barre’s covert team in post-war Vienna, she uses her charm and code name Starling to infiltrate the world of relics. When several influential men charge her with finding the death mask of Mozart, Sophie wonders if there is more than the composer’s legacy and finds herself drawn to potential answers in Prague.

Simon Barrington, the illegitimate heir of one of Sussex’s oldest estates, used the previous war to hide his insecurities about his past. He is in love with Sophie Villiers, and a marriage of convenience has always kept her close. Until now, when Sophie’s mysterious client in Prague forces him to wonder if her allegiance to him—and their cause—is in question.
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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Morning Gift

Rachel McMillan Why did I love this book?

Recalling Ibbotson’s personal experience of leaving Austria for England before Hitler’s Anschluss, The Morning Gift is a witty and warm marriage of convenience story between a witty and intrepid archaeologist, Quinton Somerville, and a brilliant professor’s daughter Ruth Berger. When Ruth is accidentally left behind in Vienna after her family has emigrated to England, Quin marries Jewish Ruth and protects her from oncoming Nazi occupation: under the condition that they will part ways when both are safely back in London. But Quin and Ruth continue to run into each other again and again and again. A deliciously Austrian-flavoured book. Ibbotson’s Viennese set-sequences and memories are a love letter to her city.

By Eva Ibbotson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Morning Gift as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

The Morning Gift is a beautiful, classic romance from much loved author, Eva Ibbotson.

Eighteen-year-old Ruth lives in the sparkling city of Vienna with her family, where she delights in its music, energy and natural beauty. She is wildly in love with the brilliant young pianist Heini Radik and can't wait until they are married.

But Ruth's world is turned upside down when the Nazis invade Austria and her family are forced to flee to England, and through a devastating misunderstanding she is left behind. Her only hope to escape Vienna comes from Quin, a young English professor, who unexpectedly…


Book cover of The Third Man

Rachel McMillan Why did I love this book?

Greene wrote much of his screenplay-turned- iconic Cold War thriller at the Café Mozart overlooking the gorgeous Albertinaplatz in Vienna. Immortalized by the 1949 British film,  the story is a dark look at the craters and restoration of the Post-war years in the Allied-occupied city. When author Rollo Martins is invited to visit his old friend Harry Lime in the war-torn city, he finds himself embroiled in racketeering, the seedy schwartzmarkt, and even murder.  This atmospheric look at a city in tatters where cigarettes were a more secure currency than the defunct reichsmarks littering the bombed street, it is a classic of a Vienna still ghostly beautiful but in a period of shift and change. 

By Graham Greene,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Third Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rollo Martins' usual line is the writing of cheap paperback Westerns under the name of Buck Dexter. But when his old friend Harry Lime invites him to Vienna, he jumps at the chance. With exactly five pounds in his pocket, he arrives only just in time to make it to his friend's funeral. The victim of an apparently banal street accident, the late Mr. Lime, it seems, had been the focus of a criminal investigation, suspected of nothing less than being "the worst racketeer who ever made a dirty living in this city." Martins is determined to clear his friend's…


Book cover of The Huntress

Rachel McMillan Why did I love this book?

From a small office in Mariahilferstrasse, former reporter turned Nazi hunter Ian Graham exercises the war’s demons by narrowing his gaze on infamous war criminal Die Jägerin. While the action eventually moves to America in a cat and mouse chase.  Ian’s time in the occupied city, a side trip to Salzburg, and even a trip up the famous Riesenrad ferris-wheel are highlights of this atmospheric historical read proving that the shadows of Hitler’s Vienna and leftover Nazi sympathizers can be found under every uprooted cobblestone. 

By Kate Quinn,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Huntress as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling novel, THE ALICE NETWORK, comes another fascinating historical novel about a battle-haunted English journalist and a Russian female bomber pilot who join forces to track the Huntress, a Nazi war criminal gone to ground in America.

In the aftermath of war, the hunter becomes the hunted...

Bold and fearless, Nina Markova always dreamed of flying. When the Nazis attack the Soviet Union, she risks everything to join the legendary Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on the invading Germans. When she is stranded behind enemy…


Book cover of Vienna Blood

Rachel McMillan Why did I love this book?

The second in the Liebermann Papers: a mystery series featuring Freud-student Max Liebermann noted as literature’s first psychoanalytic detective who helps the pragmatic and gruff Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt solve some of fin-de-siecle Vienna’s most dastardly crimes. While since made into a successful PBS series, the book’s atmospheric rendering of the Baroque jewel’s opulence is countered by the stark portrayals of anti-semitism, paranoia, and the primitive, cruel, and rudimentary techniques used to “treat” patients suffering from mental disorders.  

By Frank Tallis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Vienna Blood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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…


Book cover of The Accidental Empress

Rachel McMillan Why did I love this book?

The first in the Sisi duology by Pataki,  paints the backdrop of the love story between soon-Empress Elisabeth “Sisi” and her monumental courtship and marriage to Franz Josef. A snapshot of the imperial court in all of its expectations but also Sisi’s magnanimous contributions to the fashion and style of the day. Continue the story Sisi: Empress on Her Own which finds Sisi at the apex of destructive love and power where the fateful tragedy of Mayerling and its eventual toppling of the first domino that will lead to the end of the Habsburg Empire is painted in an intimate and readable style. 

Think of it as the Habsburg equivalent to The Crown.

By Allison Pataki,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Accidental Empress as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * Discover the "captivating, absorbing, and beautifully told" (Kathleen Grissom) love story of Sisi, the Austro-Hungarian empress and wife of Emperor Franz Joseph-perfect for fans of the Netflix series The Empress!

The year is 1853, and the Habsburgs are Europe's most powerful ruling family. With his empire stretching from Austria to Russia, from Germany to Italy, Emperor Franz Joseph is young, rich, and ready to marry.

Fifteen-year-old Elisabeth, "Sisi," Duchess of Bavaria, travels to the Habsburg Court with her older sister, who is betrothed to the young emperor. But shortly after her arrival at court, Sisi…


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A School for Unusual Girls

By Kathleen Baldwin,

Book cover of A School for Unusual Girls

Kathleen Baldwin Author Of Sanctuary for Seers: A Stranje House Novel

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Loves God Mother to Many Wilderness Adventurer History Enthusiast

Kathleen's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

A spy school for girls amidst Jane Austen’s high society.

Daughters of the Beau Monde who don’t fit London society’s strict mold are banished to Stranje House, where the headmistress trains these unusually gifted girls to enter the dangerous world of spies in the Napoleonic wars. #1 NYT bestselling author Meg Cabot calls this exciting historical series "completely original and totally engrossing."

A School for Unusual Girls

By Kathleen Baldwin,

What is this book about?

A School for Unusual Girls is the first captivating installment in the Stranje House series for young adults by award-winning author Kathleen Baldwin. #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot calls this romantic Regency adventure "completely original and totally engrossing."

It's 1814. Napoleon is exiled on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, has become one of Regency England's dark little secrets. The daughters of the beau monde who don't fit high society's constrictive mold are banished to Stranje House to be reformed into marriageable young…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Vienna, war criminals, and Austria?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Vienna, war criminals, and Austria.

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