Vienna 1903. An operatic diva, Ida Rosenkrantz, is found dead in her luxurious villa. It appears that she has taken an overdose of morphine, but a broken rib suggests other and more sinister possibilities. Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt seeks the assistance of his young friend, the psychoanalyst Dr. Max Liebermann, and they begin their inquiries at Vienna's majestic opera house.
The trail leads Rheinhardt and Liebermann, via a social climbing professor of psychiatry, to the Hofburg palace where the investigators are placed in great personal danger, as corruption is exposed at the very highest levels.