A Quiet Flame (Bernie Gunther Series #5)

( 27 )

Overview

Bernie Gunther returns to trail a serial killer in 1950's Buenos Aires

When he introduced Bernie Gunther in the original Berlin Noir trilogy, Philip Kerr immediately established himself as a thriller writer on par with Raymond Chandler. His new Bernie Gunther novels have won him comparisons with Alan Furst, John le Carré, and Graham Greene. A Quiet Flame finds Gunther in Argentina, circa 1950, where he- falsely accused of Nazi war crimes-has been offered a new life and a clean ...

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A Quiet Flame (Bernie Gunther Series #5)

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Overview

Bernie Gunther returns to trail a serial killer in 1950's Buenos Aires

When he introduced Bernie Gunther in the original Berlin Noir trilogy, Philip Kerr immediately established himself as a thriller writer on par with Raymond Chandler. His new Bernie Gunther novels have won him comparisons with Alan Furst, John le Carré, and Graham Greene. A Quiet Flame finds Gunther in Argentina, circa 1950, where he- falsely accused of Nazi war crimes-has been offered a new life and a clean passport by the Perón government. But the tough, fast-talking detective doesn't have the luxury of laying low when a serial killer- whose crimes may reach back to Berlin before the war-is mutilating young girls. Taut, gritty, and loaded with evocative historical detail, A Quiet Flame is among Kerr's best work yet.

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Editorial Reviews

Marilyn Stasio
Every time we're afraid we've seen the last of Bernie Gunther, Philip Kerr comes through—as he does in A Quiet Flame—with another unnerving adventure for his morally conflicted hero.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

At the start of Kerr's stellar fifth Bernie Gunther novel (after The One from the Other), the former Berlin homicide detective seeks exile in Argentina in 1950, along with others connected to the Nazi past (one of his fellow ship passengers is Adolf Eichmann). A few weeks after Gunther arrives in Buenos Aires, a local policeman, Colonel Montalbán, asks his help in solving the savage murder of 15-year-old Grete Wohlauf. Montalbán has noticed similarities between this crime and two unsolved murders Gunther investigated in 1932 Germany. Another teenage girl's disappearance heightens the urgency of the inquiry. In exchange for free medical treatment for his just diagnosed thyroid cancer, Gunther agrees to subtly grill members of the large German community. A secret he stumbles on soon places his life in jeopardy. Kerr, who's demonstrated his versatility with high-quality entries in other genres, cleverly and plausibly grafts history onto a fast-paced thriller plot. (Mar.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

British novelist Kerr's fifth Bernie Gunther thriller finds the German private detective in 1950 Argentina, where he has fled with other "Old Comrades" after his identity was compromised (see The One from the Other). Bernie's past as a police officer involuntarily absorbed into the SS continues to dog his heels. Recognized by Colonel Montalbán of Juan Perón's secret police, he is forced into investigating an apparent lust murder and the disappearance of a wealthy young girl. The first case has eerie similarities to an unsolved homicide that Bernie investigated in Berlin in 1932; the second ties in with an attempt to seize Nazi plunder hidden in Swiss banks. But the situation becomes complicated as the detective risks his life to track down and interrogate several ex-Nazis involved in nefarious deeds. Authentic period detail, biting wit, sparkling metaphors, and an engaging character whose moral ambiguity places him in perilous situations make this a read to savor. Fans of the earlier series titles will love the extended sections that re-create the grimly decadent atmosphere of the last days of the Weimar Republic. Highly recommended for public libraries.
—Ron Terpening

Kirkus Reviews
Hitler is history, but Bernie Gunther, the SS guy with a heart of gold, is alive and well, and chasing dirty rats in Argentina. World War II didn't quite go the way it was supposed to-the Third Reich having lasted noticeably less than 1,000 years-but the Nazis are still in there pitching. The setting has shifted to Argentina, that happy haven for Adolf Eichmann, Josef Mengele and the like-minded. From this hate-mongering group, exempt steel-shelled, mushy-hearted Bernhard Gunther, famous once as the policeman Berlin's malefactors loved to hate. True enough, Bernie eventually left the force to put in some obligatory time among the goose-steppers, but what's a man to do when he's a born survivalist? The SS or the concentration camps (Auschwitz, Treblinka, etc.) were the sole choices available even to an iconic sleuth whose case-cracking record had long been the stuff of headlines. " ‘You were a hero of mine,' " says Colonel Montalban, Argentina's top cop, as Bernie modestly averts his eyes. Bernie senses that what Montalban has planned for him will seriously interfere with his own plans. Having arrived in Argentina the hard way-consider an unpleasant detour to a Russian prison camp-Bernie now regards himself as a noncombatant. Just find this missing German girl for me, says Montalban, adding reassuringly that it's the kind of case Bernie has always excelled at. But somehow Bernie is not reassured, since over Montalban's siren song, he hears another kind of rhythm-the sound of jackboots marching toward him. Warts and all-Kerr makes little attempt to hide them-Bernie Gunther (The One from the Other, 2006, etc.) remains endearing, entertaining and eminently forgivable.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143116486
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/23/2010
  • Series: Bernie Gunther Series , #5
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 264,410
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip Kerr

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

Average Rating 4
( 27 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(9)

4 Star

(14)

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(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 11, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Gripping

    Book 5 in the Bernard Gunther series This fiction examines Directive 11, a secret order issued in 1938 that bared Jews from entering Argentina and the consequences that derived from it. It also explored the rumour and the strong possibility that a concentration camp existed in a remote part of the country. At the time thousands of Argentina's Jewish citizens had simply disappeared, never to be seen again. Coincidently, in later years, Argentina became a safe haven for Nazis in hiding. " A Quiet Flame ", opens in 1950 with private eye Bernie Gunther, now in fine form getting off the boat in Argentina. He is not alone; one of the other passengers is Adolf Eichmann. Both have changed their identities to avoid the consequences of their past and are trying to start a new life in a new country. It didn't take long before Bernie was fingered by President Peron's secret police, it turns out they had a file on him and knew about his past activities. They felt he could assist them in the political investigation of a child abduction and murder. Knowing he had no choice but to accept, he used the opportunity to gain medical treatment for his thyroid cancer. After reviewing the case he notices many similarities with unsolved cases he worked on back in early 30's Berlin, once again he finds himself forced to tread a delicate path. Gunther's work attracts the beautiful Anna Yagubshy who is desperately looking for help in finding her Jewish relatives who have disappeared; he is immediately drawn into a horror story that rivals everything from his past. The Peron period of Buenos Aires holds terrible secrets within its corrupt halls of power, one never knows whom to trust and danger is waiting at every corner. The stories move back and forth in time from Bernie's past early 30's Berlin to the turbulent time of post war Buenos Aires 1950. The depiction of the two eras is fascinating and captivating, it also gives a unique and intriguing view into the Nazi haven created during the time of President Peron. The characterization is superb and the players have depth. I like Gunther particularly; he is a compelling protagonist, an ex-SS "collaborator" with strong ethics. This novel never lags for thrilling and chilling suspense; it will grip you from the start. The sub-plots are as powerful as the main plot and contain many dead-ends and red herrings blended seamlessly creating a well-crafted work of fiction. I started with this novel and find it could easily stand alone but was left so intrigued and entertained by the protagonist adventures I feel impelled to read the author's previous works.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    BERNIE GUNTHER GOES TO ARGENTINA

    Bernie Gunther goes to Argentina shortly after WWII ended to escape war crimes prosecution. Of course Bernie was framed. Nevertheless he winds up fleeing with other famous Nazis to Peron's Argentina - a truly safe haven where Nazi are welcome. I did not realize the extent to which Argentina identified with the Nazis, or even supposedly carried out their own small scale (relatively) program of Jewish extermination. Kerr mixes in historical fact and a fictional detecting plot to put Bernie to work and in contact with all the top historical players from Eva Peron to Adolph Eichmann. This is a good mystery, a load of fun for Bernie Gunther fans, and great historical sidebars as well.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 2, 2009

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    Despicable Conspiracies!

    Bernie Gunther is at it again in this 5th Bernie Gunther series novel! This famous Berlin homicide detective is investigating a 1950 case in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that's intimately connected to one large and several connected cases in 1932 Berlin. The cases in both countries are ripe with terror and information that could end Bernie's career and life. Bernie, a sleuth well-respected by his Berlin peers, is asked to investigate the murder of a young girl found with her internal pelvic organs surgically and carefully removed. It's a vicious death, commonly referred to as a "lust" murder and it's not the first one Bernie's heard about. In fact, there's an amazing amount of child prostitution, abortion and these connected murders happening, a sign to Germany's up and coming Nazi party that Germany is in need of Adolph Hitler's political victory.

    In fact, Bernie seems throughout the novel to go out of his way to demonstrate how deeply he despises the Nazi party tactics of brutality and death against Jews, Communists, Gypsies, homosexuals and disabled men and women, even before Hitler takes power as the leader of Germany. That seems like an amazingly large agenda for the Nazi Party but it looks like Bernie's wishes aren't going to happen. He is repeatedly warned that in the coming days his attitude could make or break his police career. A few very violent and devastatingly intimidating experiences in the course of his investigative work foreshadow what Germany will be like in the not too distant future. When Bernie gets very close to solving the mystery, he is removed from the case and thinks it's time for him to consider other career options.

    But years later in 1950 Argentina, Bernie's in a different situation altogether. He's been forced to join the Nazi exiles in Peron's Argentina as a purported SS officer criminal whom the Allies would love to find, bring to trial and punish. That scenario, however, seems highly unlikely, although Bernie hints at unspeakable acts he was forced to commit as a member of the SS squad. However, his fame has followed him and he is asked by President Peron and his wife, the notorious Evita, to find out who committed a similar murder to that of the Berlin case and to find a missing young girl. Bernie knows the cases are linked but doesn't realize the extent of the obstacles that will be set to thwart his search and the complications arising from other requests to find missing persons.

    A Quiet Flame never lags for thrilling and chilling suspense that grips the reader's attention steadily and consistently. Philip Kerr is a writer who knows precisely how to build a case, provide subplots that are minor yet just as powerfully plotted as the main conflict, and present characters with enough depth of personality that is as much of a mystery as the events under investigation. It's a rare writer who can keep this balancing act moving and vibrantly credible. Philip Kerr does all so very, very well.

    This is a novel you absolutely must not miss and will want to share with family and friends for sure! Superb!!!

    Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on April 2,2009

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 11, 2013

    Another great Bernie Gunther read. Highly recommended. I found t

    Another great Bernie Gunther read. Highly recommended. I found this one to be much starker and more depraved than even his earlier books. Nazi influences in Argentina post WWII, detective work in Berlin on the eve of Nazi takeovers, a love interest and a betrayal. Highly entertaining and provocative.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 27, 2012

    Not the Argentina of Evita! A Quiet Flame is the 5th in the Bern

    Not the Argentina of Evita! A Quiet Flame is the 5th in the Bernie Gunther series by Philip Kerr. If you've read the previous books, you won't be disappointed in this noir style detective novel featuring the wise cracking, irony quoting, anti-Nazi Bernie providing the atmospherics of both 1932 Berlin and 1950 Buenos Aries. You'll also know why he's now in Argentina. Chapters mostly alternate between the two periods, with the linkage being a murder supposedly committed in an identical manner in both locales. Why and how this manners is the basis for the twists and turns characteristic of this genre. Here, however, those plot twists unfold while we witness the impending disintegration of the Weimar Republic and the complicity of Argentina, and especially Juan and Evita Peron, with the Nazi cause. You'll gain new insights into those periods, especially that of Nazi haven Argentina, by an author who certainly knows his history.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 27, 2012

    Flows nicely and the history is right on

    Like Mr. Kerr's earlier books, this one gives you another chance to hear a Nazi war criminal justify their war time crimes. And, as you would expect, criminals are criminals whether they are at war or during peace.

    A good read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Top Notchi

    This is a fascinating novel taking place as Hitler rises, and then following up after the war with life in Argentina. Bernie Gunther proves to be an adept detective, finding the real bad guys, as he struggles to save his own hide. Highly recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2012

    Aaahahahhhh

    Tyla

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2012

    Berlin detective, Bernie Gunther, flees Berlin for Argentina a


    Berlin detective, Bernie Gunther, flees Berlin for Argentina after being falsely accused of war crimes. Since he has the reputation of a great detective he is recruited there to find a missing girl before it is too late for her. He is reminded in the course of investigating of the old unsolved brutal murders he worked on in Berlin before the war and finds that this missing girl’s case could be linked with the past. After all, Argentina is harboring many men that tortured and murdered ruthlessly during the war.
    I have wanted to read something by Philip Kerr for awhile now, so I was happy when I won this giveaway. I enjoyed this plot and getting to know Bernie. There was so much mystery and suspense that I gave up trying to figure it out and just went with the flow. I appreciate that in a novel as I tend to figure stuff out quickly, which can lead to feeling deflated at the end. My only complaint would be that the transition between the past and present wasn’t smooth for me. I would forget if I was reading about Berlin or Argentina every once in awhile. Otherwise this story was an enjoyable experience and I will happily recommend it.

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  • Posted March 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This is a superb post WWII investigative thriller

    In 1950 former Berlin police detective Bernie Gunther is stunned when he is accused of war crimes as he loathed the Nazis. Knowing the atmosphere is one of shoot first, he obtains haven in Argentina alongside many other Germans, almost all Nazis.

    In Buenos Aires he begins to start his new life when local cop Colonel Montalban asks him to investigate the brutal murder of teenage Grete Wohlauf. The police officer points out to the German expatriate that the current homicide shares much in common with a cold case Gunther failed to solve in 1932 Germany. Gunther takes the cross Atlantic connection seriously even though the two homicides he investigated occurred almost two decades apart as much of the scum of German have come to reside in Peron's paradise. When another teen goes missing, Gunther agrees to slyly question his fellow expatriates in exchange for medical treatment for thyroid cancer. Meanwhile Anna Yagubsky begs Gunther to find out what happened to her missing Jewish aunt and uncle.

    This is a superb post WWII investigative thriller that contains an ethical lead character who is assumed to be an amoral racist due to guilt by association; as everyone believes war criminal fled to Argentina. Thus fans receive a unique intriguing look at the Nazi haven under Peron's rule. The whodunit is well written while the missing persons' case adds to the sense of being in Buenos Aires in 1950 as Phillip Kerr continues to explore the Nazis this time after their defeat (see The Berlin Noir trilogy).

    Harriet Klausner

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