A soldier pursues a girl in raggedy clothes through crowded streets. She clasps a pretty pocket watch. Trying to lose the soldier, she dashes into an abandoned building and flees to the second floor. A man sits, tied to a chair, one hand cut off—dead.
The police archivist Fraulein Lindner searches for news of the dead man, whose wallet identified him as Emil Schwaiger. He’s a railway clerk—and he disappeared twenty years ago.
Oskar tries to get the pickpocket girl to answer questions, treating her kindly, but all he gets is a nod of the head when he asks if she often hid in that abandoned building. He also takes the pocket watch from her.
At a recital that evening, Oskar is distracted and unsettled. Max correctly surmises from behavioral clues that he has witnessed a brutal murder. Indeed it was: not only had the man lost a hand; his tongue had also been severed and stuffed back in to his mouth, and he was bound with piano wire. Why torture a man? Max suspects the attacker wanted information, and then punished Schwaiger for not giving it.
When Schwaiger’s sister comes in to identify the body, she’s insulted: it’s not her brother. Someone must have tampered with official records: the photo of Schwaiger Fraulein Lindner found matches this corpse.
The pickpocket girl still won’t speak, but Oskar’s boss won’t let her stay at the police station any longer even though she’s a valuable witness. She’s too young to be put in a cell. Max volunteers to take her home, explaining that she’s traumatized and needs care; the hospital’s methods are too blunt for her to be taken there.
He eventually brings her a teddy bear while his mother gives her clean clothes to wear. Max’s sister Leah notices her looking at her jewelry and lets her try on a necklace. Finally, the girl speaks when Leah asks her name: it’s Lily.
Oskar’s former boss Strasser, now a director of the police force, has taken an interest in the case. He’s assigning someone else to it, he tells Oskar, dismissing him by advising him not to ask too many questions.
Oskar is furious. But then he receives a message and a feather in an envelope. “The name is Anton Resch,” the note reads. Max convinces him to let Amelia analyze the envelope for chemical clues before Oskar turns the case over to somebody else. (Max may have an ulterior motive there…) Meanwhile Fraulein Lindner searches for Resch in the archive after Amelia identifies the feather as that of a carrion crow: the messenger of the dead.
Lindner identifies Resch as an officer in the police force, discovering a photo of him with Strasser. Oskar goes to the director and argues to be kept on the case, seeing as someone has contacted him personally. Strasser gives in and confides a bit in Oskar while still telling him to remain at arm’s distance from the case. The police have been tracking a man named Lazar Kiss, whose codename is Crow. He’s half-Serbian, half-Hungarian, and is suspected to have been involved with the assassination of the Serbian royal family. Resch was trying to track him down and took on Schwaiger’s identity to go undercover since Schwaiger had been missing for so long. But the police don’t even know what Kiss looks like.
Oskar tells Max, in complete confidence, that he wants to actively work on the case, despite Strasser’s orders. The appearance of another note addressed to him gives him the chance. It is found clutched in Resch’s severed hand on the grounds of a guarded building. The hand is blackened with tar—a reference to the Black Hand, an extremist Serbian movement to unify the Balkans, Fraulein Lindner explains. The message asks to meet Oskar face-to-face.
He and Max visit an enclave of Balkan immigrants, where the meeting is to take place at a Serbian theater. Amelia has found hemp rope and paint residue in the envelope, which fits the setting of the theater. (Max uses the excuse of seeing Amelia to invite her to his parents’ upcoming anniversary party, explaining that his ex-fiancée Clara is now engaged; things are no longer complicated between him and Amelia. He has to leave abruptly with Oskar before he receives an answer.)
Oskar snoops around the outdoor theater while a troupe depicts the grotesque beheading of a king. He cuts a sample of cord, but finds nothing incriminating. After the show, the bartender directs him to one of the actors, saying that he knows everyone. The actor mentions a young student named Vrana who was spouting off about Serbian unification and the Black Hand the previous evening, giving him the address of a building where many students live under the roof of a kind old man.
Vrana means crow, so Oskar believes he has found Lazar Kiss. He and Max visit Vrana’s room, let in by the old man. No one is there, so they look around. Oskar notices nails in a wineglass and a loose, hollow-sounding floorboard. Lifting it, he finds two pistols. It seems like they have found Kiss. Now the question is, who has he come to Vienna to kill?