This is a combined edition of: "March Violets", "The Pale Criminal", and, "A German Requiem" by Philip Kerr.
The three novels span WW2 from the nasty beginning of anti-semitism, through the hostilities to the final sad ruin of reconstruction Germany. Kerr's wonderfully cynical private eye understands the compromises necessary to survive in all of these Germanys but remains human throughout the horrors. These are highly intelligent detective stories beautifully written with sympathy for ordinary Germans doing what they could to get by, but the insight into wartime Germany is the real treat. Philip Kerr is a great writer and I consider this to be him at his very best.
"Circling the courtyard was an ambulatory, with a roof supported by thick beams and wooden columns, and this was patrolled by man with a pair of evil-looking Dobermanns. There wasn't much light apart from the coachlamp by the fron door, but as far as I could see the house was white with pebbledash walls and a deep mansard roof--as big as a decent-sized hotel of the sort I couldn't afford. Somewhere in the trees behind the house a peacock was screaming for help."
This paragraph is also brilliantly constructed, but what especially appeals to me is the self-effacing joke about the size of the house and the last sentence, the sort of telling detail that mirrors the sardonic attitude of the narrator toward the Nazi rich.
"Closer to the door I got my first good look at the doctor. Since he was at least fifty, I suppose you could say he was distinguished looking. Taller than he had seemed sitting in the back of the car, and dressed fastidiously, but with a total disregard for fashion. He wore a stiff color you could have sliced bread with, a pin-striped suit of a light-grey shade, a cream-colored waist-coat and spats; his hands were gloved in grey kid, and on his neatly cropped square grey head he wore a large grey hat with a brim that surrounded the high pleated crown like a castle moat. He looked like an old suit of armor."
A typical Chandleresque paragraph with the short summation sentence at the end like a punchline.Read more ›