The Silence is set in 1900 in Vienna, Austria, during the height of the city's cultural rennaissance. A noted City Councilman has committed suicide in his office in City Hall. Meanwhile Karl Werthen, a lawyer and private inquiries agent, has been hired on the recommendation of his friend, the artist Gustav Klimt, to find the missing son of the powerful industrialist Karl Wittgenstein. His investigations lead him to link the missing son with a journalist investigating corruption in the City Hall of Vienna's mayor, Karl Lueger, an exceedingly ambitious and ruthless politician. The journalist, too, commits suicide. This seems to be more than coincidental.

Joining Werthen in his investigation is Hanns Gross (the real-life "father of modern criminology", whose texts were the standard reference until the 1930s). They piece together a puzzle that reveals a fantastic yet plausible plot to sell off the Vienna Woods. But are the suicides, disappearances and civic corruption actually linked? What does it all mean for the characters, for the city of Vienna, and even for the fate of Emperor Franz Josef's Empire?