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Berlin Noir [Paperback]

Philip Kerr
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 1 1993 Penguin Crime/Mystery
This is a combined edition of: "March Violets", "The Pale Criminal", and, "A German Requiem" by Philip Kerr.

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Now published in one paperback volume, these three mysteries are exciting and insightful looks at life inside Nazi Germany -- richer and more readable than most histories of the period. We first meet ex-policeman Bernie Gunther in 1936, in March Violets (a term of derision which original Nazis used to describe late converts.) The Olympic Games are about to start; some of Bernie's Jewish friends are beginning to realize that they should have left while they could; and Gunther himself has been hired to look into two murders that reach high into the Nazi Party. In The Pale Criminal, it's 1938, and Gunther has been blackmailed into rejoining the police by Heydrich himself. And in A German Requiem, the saddest and most disturbing of the three books, it's 1947 as Gunther stumbles across a nightmare landscape that conceals even more death than he imagines. (For a review of Kerr's latest novel, The Grid, see our Thrillers section.)

About the Author

Philip Kerr is the author of many novels, but perhaps most important are the five featuring Bernie Gunther?A Quiet Flame, The One from the Other, and the Berlin Noir trilogy (March Violets, The Pale Criminal, and A German Requiem). He lives in London and Cornwall, England, with his family.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Light on a Different World Jan. 2 2007
By Dave and Joe TOP 100 REVIEWER
I stumbled on this book and was immediately captivated. The mysterys are more than servicable but what makes the book is the glimpse into a Germany that is seldom seen. The life of day to day Germans during and after the Nazi era. For the first time you see what it was like living under occupation of your own government. Amazing characterizations. This is how they should teach history!! Loved it ... learned a lot ... no higher praise.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative thrillers set in WWII Germany Oct. 6 1997
By A Customer
I was loaned this trilogy as a vacation read, I started reading in Dubai airport and barely raised my head until I had finished. The first three days of my vacation were wasted in terms of enjoying Spanish culture, but I don't regret it.
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great historical thriller! June 14 2004
I devoured this trilogy in just under 10 days, I thought it was fantastic. I really enjoyed how Kerr managed to naturally weave in the historical facts with his fictional characters. I particularly liked the first section "March Violets" the best, it was a real page-turner which I found hard to set down once I started. The second, "The Pale Criminal" was good, but had several parts which dragged a bit and the third "A German Requiem" picked it up a bit with a refreshing change of scenery and a fast-paced plot line. Kerr's writing is phenomenal and witty and the superb and complete way the characters are developed is very unique. The reason I did not give it 5 stars is that in certain places (especially when romantic situations and physical relationships are described) the dialogue and occurences aren't believable and can be laughable in parts....seems out of place with Kerr's otherwise sparkling writing. Also, at the ends of the individual books, there are a few loose ends - I was on the edge of my seat waiting for them to be clarified, but to no avail....sometimes this quality is a plus, attesting to skill of the writer to pull you in, but I felt abandoned by the text, as if I'd been loyal to the construction but was tricked out of the satisfaction of seeing the final product. However, overall I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it extremely favorably, especially to those who have a special interest in this time period of WWII and Nazi Germany. Even if you don't, you won't regret putting in the time to get to know these characters as well as Kerr's writing style. Enjoy!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great collection to read and pass time nicely Sept. 24 2003
I am a first-time Kerr reader who appreciated and (mostly) enjoyed this trilogy of Bernie Gunther stories. While at first put off by the fact that the novels are based in the historical period of WWII and pre-Cold War (not my period and I'm not a pro-Nazi), I quickly found myself emersed and mesmerized by Kerr's writing.
The triology format of the book makes this a great buy... But what's also nice about this type of format is that the reader gets to actually see Gunther (and by extension Kerr's own writing) grow and mature into his own as a complex, personal, psychological detective set in a specific historical context that is more-or-less rooted in historical facts. (Kerr ends each novel with a short piece that explains the history and, in one case, ongoing mystery that contemporary researchers and journalists are still striving to solve.)
There is also a fine sense of sharp, wry humor that occasionally makes its way into Kerr's writing. I only wish there were more of this, it would help to balance the very dark, ominuous, and sinister setting that evenly pervades all three novels.
My only complaints: The novels are also filled with their own share of too-graphic violence, the plot line in A German Requiem is incredibly convoluted, and the trilogy ended far too soon for me!
If you're an avid mystery reader and interested in books that are set in specific historical periods and try to embelish/extend well-known mystery genres, definitely pick this book up! I think it's definitely worth your time and money.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Dark, Enduring Mystery Nov. 2 2001
I read this trilogy almost three years ago, yet it regularly comes to mind as one of the most enjoyable books I've read. As someone who reads primarily non-fiction or fiction by "great" writers, I ventured to read something different with Berlin Noir. Three years later, I am still searching for a comparable novel in this genre. Kerr's presentation matures throughout these novels. The hackneyed detective that he presents in March Violets, transforms slowly into a fuller, more entertaining character. Bernie Gunther loses his overuse of trite, detective-style similes by the end of the first story. By then, the reader is enveloped in a dark world of mystery and political barbarity. Kerr's portrait of Berlin is enticingly eerie. His characters are cut from typical molds, but are presented with enough freshness to keep the reader very interested. And using the different backdrops of pre-war, war-time, and post-war Germany, Kerr was able to modify the setting but maintain the same dark intensity.
I was sorry to finish this trilogy. It is fantastic escapist literature. I have read a couple of the J. Robert Janes novels, although neither the plots, nor the characters compare favorably to Berlin Noir.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Der große Schlaf
There are three detective novels here. Phillip Kerr's detective is one Bernie Gunther, who is a German version of the hard-boiled American detective - thing Philip Marlowe, Mike... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Vince Marinelli
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Loved the history but got lost in the Byzantine plots
Published 1 month ago by John S Bulger
4.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Philip Marlow
_Berlin Noir_'s three books look at Bernie Gunther's detective work in Berlin pre-and-post WWII. The stories are hard-boiled (although not quite as hard-boiled as Chandler's)... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Ron Hoppe
5.0 out of 5 stars Berlin Noir
I love all of Philip Kerr novels , this is special , 3 books in one , Bernie Gunther is smart , fun and living in a very difficult time , this series is both entertaining and... Read more
Published on Dec 31 2010 by J. G. Bruyea
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Captivating
This is a collection of the first three novels in the Bernhard Gunther series that were written between 1989 and 1991 and were published together in 1993 under the title "Berlin... Read more
Published on Dec 12 2010 by Toni Osborne
5.0 out of 5 stars Chandleresque prose. Don't believe me? Listen.
Chandler's opening style is widely imitated. Here's a conscious tribute which goes Chandler one better by putting this voice into Hitler's Germany. Read more
Published on Feb. 27 2004 by Richard L. Pangburn
3.0 out of 5 stars overrated
Mysteries are only so-so, there are too many stretches in the first two novels, but the last one is simply beyond believable. Read more
Published on Nov. 26 2002 by Does Not Matter
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Results
This trilogy is intriguing because I have several complaints about Kerr's style, yet I really did enjoy these books. First the complaints: 1) Way too many cliches. Read more
Published on Jan. 21 2002 by John C Washburne
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the absolute best HB detective novels
Although his other work never really hits the mark, this trio of hard boiled detective novels set in nazi germany (pre,post,and during) are truly great fiction. Read more
Published on Jan. 4 2002 by Gordon Rios
5.0 out of 5 stars "Hard boiled" German PI
This volume, which contains three complete novels, is an excellent sign that "hard boiled" detective books are still being written, even if these stories are about a... Read more
Published on Dec 31 2001 by Frank J. Konopka
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