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.
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.
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.
Praise for Philip Kerr and the Bernie Gunther Novels
“A brilliantly innovative thriller writer.”—Salman Rushdie
“Philip Kerr is the only bona fide heir to Raymond Chandler.”—Salon.com
“In terms of narrative, plot, pace and characterization, Kerr’s in a league with John le Carré.”—The Washington Post
“Every time we’re afraid we’ve seen the last of Bernie Gunther, Philip Kerr comes through with another unnerving adventure for his morally conflicted hero.”—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
“Just as youth is wasted on the young, history is wasted on historians. It ought to be the exclusive property of novelists—but only if they are as clever and knowledgeable as Philip Kerr.”—Chicago Tribune
“Kerr quantum leaps the limitations of genre fiction. Most thrillers insult your intelligence; his assault your ignorance.”—Esquire
“A richly satisfying mystery, one that evokes the noir sensibilities of Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald while breaking important new ground of its own.”—Los Angeles Times
“Part of the allure of these novels is that Bernie is such an interesting creation, a Chandleresque knight errant caught in insane historical surroundings. Bernie walks down streets so mean that nobody can stay alive and remain truly clean.”—John Powers, Fresh Air (NPR)
“The Bernie Gunther novels are first-class, as stylish as Chandler and as emotionally resonant as the best of Ross Macdonald.”—George Pelecanos
“Kerr’s stylish noir writing makes every page a joy to read.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)