Paul Wikitsch is an intelligent young man from a poor and rural background. His mother makes it possible for him to study theology with a view to becoming a priest. Paul cannot shake off his scepticism, however, and his clashes with the authorities mean he has to leave the seminary. In later life he proves attractive to women, yet somehow unable to enter a relationship with them. The other main character, also an outsider, is Alexander Altmann. He is every inch the career man and marries a wealthy lady to boot. His carefully plotted life threatens to veer wildly off-course when Ulla, his wife, commits suicide. It is in a thoroughly twenty-first manner that the paths of the two men cross, one drawn to the writing of the other on a blog. A fateful encounter, one in which the men find a love of sorts, but it is also an upbeat to a shooting rampage.
The economy of the language is striking and the unconventional handling of an entire century and more, through mention of several generations of various families, deals with swathes of Austrian history in effective, pared-back fashion, while the cinematic close seems real and modern. A chilling and perfectly crafted thriller from a master.