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Prague Fatale (Bernie Gunther Series #8)

Prague Fatale (Bernie Gunther Series #8)

3.8 22
by Philip Kerr

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A Kirkus Reviews Top Ten Crime Novel for 2012

September 1941: Reinhard Heydrich is hosting a gathering to celebrate his appointment as Reichsprotector of Czechoslovakia. He has chosen his guests with care. All are high-ranking Party members and each is a suspect in a crime as yet to be committed: the murder of Heydrich himself.



A Kirkus Reviews Top Ten Crime Novel for 2012

September 1941: Reinhard Heydrich is hosting a gathering to celebrate his appointment as Reichsprotector of Czechoslovakia. He has chosen his guests with care. All are high-ranking Party members and each is a suspect in a crime as yet to be committed: the murder of Heydrich himself.

     Indeed, a murder does occur, but the victim is a young adjutant on Heydrich’s staff, found dead in his room, the door and windows bolted from the inside. Anticipating foul play, Heydrich had already ordered Bernie Gunther to Prague. After more than a decade in Berlin's Kripo, Bernie had jumped ship as the Nazis came to power, setting himself up as a private detective. But Heydrich, who managed to subsume Kripo into his own SS operations, has forced Bernie back to police work. Now, searching for the killer, Gunther must pick through the lives of some of the Reich’s most odious officials.

     A perfect locked-room mystery. But because Philip Kerr is a master of the sleight of hand, Prague Fatale is also a tense political thriller: a complex tale of spies, partisan terrorists, vicious infighting, and a turncoat traitor situated in the upper reaches of the Third Reich.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Kerr’s stellar eighth Bernie Gunther novel (after 2011’s Field Gray) takes the Berlin cop to Prague in October 1941, to investigate the murder of an adjutant of feared SS Gen. Reinhard Heydrich, who’s just become the Protector of Bohemia and Moravia. The morning after a drunken party attended by SS officers at Heydrich’s country estate outside Prague, the adjutant, who was shaken by what he witnessed as part of a Nazi death squad in Latvia, is found dead in a locked guestroom. Heydrich wants Gunther, suicidal himself after similar experiences in Russia, to find the adjutant’s killer fast, but how is one to identify the culprit amid a house full of professional murderers? A subplot involving the death of a foreigner run over by a train and Czech nationalists dovetails with a surprising denouement worthy of Agatha Christie. Kerr effectively works dark humor into Gunther’s weary narration, and the ending packs the wicked bite his readers have come to anticipate. Agent: Caradoc King, A.P. Watt. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"Inside this mesmerizing novel, set mainly in a country house outside Prague, is a tantalizing locked-door murder mystery that will thrill fans of Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther novels." —Carol Memmott, USA Today

"[Prague Fatale] is clever and compelling, proving once again that the Bernie Gunther books are, by a long chalk, the best crime series around today." —The Daily Beast

"[Philip Kerr] is an absolute master of the genre." —The Courier-Journal

"In Prague Fatale, [Bernie Gunther] is back in the early days of the Second World War, dealing with a case that combines espionage, terrorism and a locked-room mystery [. . .] Philip Kerr does his usual fine job of setting the scenes and portraying the personalities of the era.  His Nazis are note-perfect creations, as are the other characters, fictional and historical, of Second World War-era Europe, all of it flavoured by the wisecracking, tough-talking Gunther, who has been called the Sam Spade of Germany.  Kerr knows his modern German history, and is gifted at storytelling, and Gunther is a dark anti-hero for the ages." —H. J. Kirchhoff, The Globe and Mail

“Bernie Gunther, the indomitable Berliner at the heart of this great series, is a man pummeled by history. . . . The great strength of Field Gray is Kerr’s overpowering portrait of the war’s horrors, [and] the glue holding it all together is Bernie himself, our battered, defiant German Everyman.” —Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post

"Prague Fatale is classic Philip Kerr, a first-person noir detective story worthy of Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler in every regard, seamlessly transplanted to war-era Europe. Every time I finish another Gunther novel, I think, 'This is as good as it gets.' Then inevitably, the next one comes along and is even better!" —Bruce Tierney, BookPage.com

"German private detective Bernie Gunther would have been respected by Philip Marlowe and the two of them would have enjoyed sitting down at a bar and talking." —Jonathan Ames, Salon.com

“The allure of these novels is that Bernie is such an interesting creation, a Chandleresque knight errant caught in insane historical surroundings.” —John Powers, Fresh Air, NPR


Kerr crafts some of the finest mystery novels in contemporary fiction, noir classics set against the multiple backdrops of WWII’s far-reaching stages . . .

Kirkus Reviews
Good cop and confirmed Nazi-hater Bernie Gunther (Field Gray, 2011, etc.) lands in the middle of a homicidal riddle. September, 1941, and here's Bernie back in Berlin from the Eastern Front, where he's seen enough horror to preclude easy sleep for the rest of his life. More than ever he despises everything the Nazis stand for, and just as much as ever he's under their thumb. The good news is, he's out of the army and once again a Kripo homicide detective, but the job is far from what it was in the days before Germany became Hitler's, a time when Bernie relished the work and took justifiable pride in his hard-earned expertise. And of course the bad news is, Kripo is now controlled by that arch villain, and boss of the SS, Reinhard "the Hangman" Heydrich, meaning that an investigation is only what Heydrich wants it to be. Suddenly that's precisely the kind of dubious investigation Bernie finds himself conducting. From Hradschin Castle in Prague, where the newly appointed Reichsprotector holds court, has come a summons to appear immediately. It seems someone has attempted to poison Heydrich; that being the case, Bernie, the designated Reichsprotector's detective, is required to nail the brazen culprit. At the moment, 39 high-ranking Nazis are guests at the castle. Knowing how little love is lost among those prominent in Hitlerian circles, Bernie figures he's got 39 prime suspects, though it strikes him as a bit on the foolhardy side that the attempt should be made in the Hangman's own stronghold. And yet, he decides, in a house "full of murderers, anything is possible." Bernie's voice--ironic, mordantly funny, inimitable--reflects a world-weary journey. Still--and this is the entertaining heart of the matter--readers are never permitted to forget that survival is his religion.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Bernie Gunther Series , #8
Sold by:
Penguin Group
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File size:
851 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Inside this mesmerizing novel, set mainly in a country house outside Prague, is a tantalizing locked-door murder mystery that will thrill fans of Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther novels."—Carol Memmott, USA Today

Meet the Author

Philip Kerr is the author of seven previous Bernie Gunther novels, most recently Field Gray, which was a New York Times bestseller and a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2011. Its predecessor, If the Dead Rise Not, was a finalist for the Shamus Award for Best Hardcover Fiction. As. P. B. Kerr, he is the author of the young adult series Children of the Lamp. Kerr lives in London.

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Prague Fatale 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Man_Of_La_Book_Dot_Com More than 1 year ago
Prague Fatale by Philip Kerr is a fic­tional book in the Bernie Gun­ther series. This is the eighth book in the series which brings up the ques­tion: just how many lives does Bernie Gun­ther has? When Bernie’s old boss Rein­hard Hey­drich of the Sicher­heits­di­enst (SD) orders him to Prague to spend the week­end in his coun­try house with senior SS and SD fig­ures, Bernie is obliged to drop every­thing and go. When a mur­der is com­mit­ted in a room that was locked from the inside, the relax­ing week­end turns hec­tic and Bernie is asked to inves­ti­gate the mystery. When I first read Prague Fatale by Philip Kerr I was a bit con­fused since the series appears out of chrono­log­i­cal order. The first book I read in the series, Field Gray (my thoughts), was the sev­enth and I imme­di­ately knew I’d want to read more. I actu­ally bought the col­lec­tion of the first three nov­els titled Berlin Noir but haven’t got­ten around to read­ing them yet. Bernie Gun­ther is the per­fect anti-hero, a tough and cyn­i­cal Berliner, he is appalled by him­self, the job he has to do, the coun­try he loves and the peo­ple he works for and with. Bernie goes through life, ago­niz­ing over past actions, try­ing to do as lit­tle dam­age as pos­si­ble, using a wry gal­lows humor as a defense strategy. It’s amaz­ing how many times, just in the two books I’ve read, Bernie comes close to death. The way he talks to upper Nazi offi­cials he should have ended up with a bul­let through the head, or worst, half way through the book. In the novel Alone in Berlin by Hans Fal­lada (Every Man Dies Alone in the US) which is based on a true story, the two pro­tag­o­nist get handed a death sen­tence for doing much less. How­ever they did not have Bennie’s high level Nazi con­tacts (“Vit­a­min P”), his army record (which includes some hor­rific acts) or his skills and cunning. The plot is skill­fully arranged, cen­ter­ing around a locked room mur­der in the sum­mer cas­tle of Rein­hard Hey­drich, Reich­spro­tec­tor of Bohemia, a fencer, musi­cian, fan of a Agatha Christie as well as one of the cru­elest and most bru­tal in Nazi Ger­many known as "The Hang­man" — and he's also Bernie’s boss. The set­ting, Prague and a cas­tle full of Nazis, is bril­liant and shows that even mon­sters tend to blend into one another in a close set­ting. Towards the end, Mr. Kerr reminds us, in gra­tu­itous detail, what the Nazis are capa­ble of and that the régime is more than just an excuse for amusement. More inter­est­ing than the mur­der is Bernie’s inter­nal strug­gle to keep a piece of his human­ity intact. Con­stantly strug­gling with a death wish, the pro­tag­o­nist is not afraid to speak his mind to com­mit death-by-Nazi and free him of his night­mares caused by par­tic­i­pat­ing in mass mur­ders on the East­ern front (Russia). The bril­liant aspect of Kerr’s books, aside from the absorb­ing yarns, is that the set­tings
Otisfield More than 1 year ago
A little slow to get going, but once it does what a story. Lots of plot lines that get wrapped together, great characters, fabulous use of language, and a great WWII history from inside Germany
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Certainly a very well researched book about this horrible period in history. My first exposure to the main character (Bernie Gunther) who taught everyone a lesson on "survival", among the horror and injustices of the Third Reich. With a little sarcasm/ humor added here and there, mostly from Bernie, it was much easier to get through this story. The book certainly keeps one turning the pages, if you have the stomach for what happened in those years during WWII. Bernie certainly was a likeable character, even though he sacraficed his late love in life for his own. Highly recommended reading for those still interested in this subject.
KenCady More than 1 year ago
Once again Phillip Kerr provides us a fascinating look at life in Germany (and Prague) during the Nazi years. His Commissar BernieGunther is an honest detective in these trying times, but his mouth often has him at odds with those who could end his life. Obviously they don't, or we wouldn't have so many excellent Gunther novels. The synopsis of the story is provided above. You can tell that I am a fan by the five stars. If you read one, you feel like reading another one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
glassshoe More than 1 year ago
If you are a lover of the Bernie series you will not miss another adventure!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
silencedogoodreturns More than 1 year ago
Great read! Found this book by accident and very glad I did. Very mesmerizing and entertaining detective tale told against a backdrop of WWII and Nazi atrocities. It certainly has piqued my interest in reading the earlier7 books of the series. What I find particulalry appealing is the central character. He sounds like Nelson DeMilles John Corey tranported from NYC to Berlin...a very cynical, hard, but humorous man with a nice dose of hidden humanity. Well worth your time.
anniemichelle More than 1 year ago
Bernie Gunther is quite the character...not very happy in Berlin where he is currently living and working. He gets assigned to work for a man he despises, Reinhard Heydrich as his bodyguard. trouble follows and Bernie must untangle himself and others from Heydrich and try and find a way to live with himself in this new Germany... The way Philip talks about Germany makes you feel as though you are right there with him, he gives Bernie language unlike any I have ever read before...perfect for the time period. I came into this series on the 8th Bernie Gunther book, I typicaly try to read a series in order but having said that I don't feel like I lost anything. I think I was able to understand the book with out having read the previous ones
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read all of Kerr's Gunther books, and this is by far his best
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I heard Philip Kerr interviewed on NPR saying he liked to put normal people in extraordinary circumstances. That's one of the things I look for in a book, and Kerr delivers an interestingly twisting mystery set in Nazi-era Berlin and Prague, showing that setting from the viewpoint of someone trying to cope with his reality while caught up in circumstances beyond his control.
joiseygoil More than 1 year ago
Engrossing...couldn't put it down for one moment...and had to actually go to the dictionary a few times which hasn't happened in years. A must read for anyone who is tempted by this topic. Can see Bergman and Bogart doing the movie....
glauver More than 1 year ago
I find it hard to rate this novel. Philip Kerr brilliantly depicts the horrors of living under the Third Reich and the struggles of those who didn’t buy into the Nazi agenda.. However, Bernie Gunther’s inability to change the world around him makes for discouraging reading. The plot is intriguing but there is no sense of redemption for Gunther when it ends. Would Heydrich and the Nazis really have tolerated Bernie’s insubordinate attitude? The Berlin Noir trilogy had more action than this novel, the first one of Kerr’s return to this series I have read.
bigtimereader81 More than 1 year ago
well written, outstanding story mixing real history and fiction together. It has excellant humor while telling a sad part of human history.graet ending
GinaK More than 1 year ago
I was a Philip Kerr fan years ago when I read A Philosophical Investigation and The Grid, but I couldn't get interested in Esau (or Berlin Noir) and stopped reading his books. I am still not sure I will continue reading the Bernie Gunther series since the part of this book I really liked was the "locked room mystery" and I was not especially interested in Arianne since I thought it was pretty obvious from the beginning that she was playing Bernie and somehow sarcasm and sex didn't seem to mix (although I guess they should in noir). Certainly Heydrich is a fascinating character, and I was sorry to see him assassinated. I thought the Bernie-Heydrich scenes were the best in the book, but after the murderer was revealed, I thought the rest of the book was a rather uninteresting anti-climax with its details of water-boarding in Nazi Germany. Perhaps had I cared about Arianne more I would have been more upset. I remain a fan, but my opinion remains that Kerr is sometimes fantastic and sometimes tedious and too obvious in playing for the reader's interest. So I would definitely recommend this book for the excellent noir atmosphere and the "mystery" plotting, but I am not sure it will inspire me to read more of Kerr's work.
Donna65738 More than 1 year ago
It was an interesting time for me to read this because I have a girl from Prague living with us right now! She is very knowledgeable about Prague history and felt this story stayed very close to being accurate regarding country and buildings. The story line was excellant also.
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Sean_Thornton_317 More than 1 year ago
See Headline.