Berlin Noir Paperback – Jan 1 1994
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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.)
From the Back Cover
Ex-policeman Bernie Gunther thought he'd seen everything on the streets of 1930s Berlin. But then he went freelance, and each case he tackled sucked him further into the grisly excesses of Nazi subculture. And even after the war, amidst the decayed, imperial splendour of Vienna, Bernie uncovered a legacy that made the wartime atrocities look lily-white in comparison...See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Book 1 "March Violets", Berlin 1936
When Gunther is retained by wealthy German industrialist Hermann Six to investigate the arson murder of his daughter and son in law and the theft of some priceless jewellery he finds himself in the middle of a major conspiracy involving highly placed Nazis. His investigation plunges him into Berlin's dark side with its noisy cabarets, its easy women and tough men, and eventually to Dachau concentration camp. There he finds himself both on the receiving and giving end of violence, violence the world has yet to learn of. He has become a pawn in a game where corruption and decadent behaviour are practiced at its highest level.
Book 2 "The Pale Criminal", Berlin 1938
This is a time when the situation in Germany is escalating from bad to worse and P.I. Gunther is investigating a case of blackmail on behalf of his client Frau Lange. Part of his investigation has him undercover in a clinic where psychotherapy is practiced but things turn ugly when his partner is murdered and the alleged blackmailer commits suicide.Read more ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
I love these books written by Kerr, although somewhat reminiscent of what's happening in the US today.Published 4 months ago by Lilith Ferguson
now I have all phillip kerr,s books,cant wait for another one,Published 5 months ago by karl morris
An excellent introduction to inspector Gunther. A superb introduction to life in Germany before and just after the end if World War 2. Hard to put down when started. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
Good characters and plots but too many inconsistencies and logical flaws in these first three novels in the Bernie Gunther series. Read morePublished 11 months ago by david serber
It was actually my husband who read the book and he loved it!Published 13 months ago by Norma Butterfield
I felt Kerr was still feeling his way as far as style goes. I have read a number of his later books and have enjoyed them a great deal, which was why I ordered this one - not... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Berit Smerdon