What type of story is this: it is not a thriller, and yet relates a crime; it is not a lengthy description of colorless intellectuals, and is yet a small milieu study written under the influence of the academic world. It is not a story about life in Vienna, and is yet a local study of coffeehouses, antiquarians and scientific institutes in this metropolis situated along the Danube. A story told as if in passing. Bit by bit the reader becomes more acquainted with the figures in the novel. Yet, these figures maintain a distance, and the reader never really gets to know them. There are Hans and Peter, for example, who are caught up in a bizarre structure of suspicions, secretive manners and mad ways of conduct. Marina, the third major person in the conspiracy, is highly curious and, with the keen perception of a detective, begins to look for traces. She comes upon a clue, or rather several, which she reveals bit by bit to the reader: Who blackmails whom? Who is the mysterious Hugo Hartmann? Who deals business with whom? Is it about debts, drugs, or valuable stolen books? About the extension of a lectureship? About all this, or about something entirely different?