The year is 1936 and Berlin is preparing for the Olympic Games. Some of Bernie's Jewish friends are beginning to realise that they should have left while they could, and Bernie himself has been hired by a wealthy industrialist to investigate two murders that reach high into the Nazi Party.
Hard-hitting, fast-paced, and richly detailed, March Violets is noir writing at its best and blackest.
©1989 Philip Kerr; (P)2008 Isis Publishing Ltd
"A brilliantly innovative thriller-writer." (Salman Rushdie)
"Echoes of Raymond Chandler but better on his vivid and well-researched detail than the master." (Evening Standard)
"Taut, brutal, coarse, believable and gripping stuff." (Sunday Telegraph)
"Traditional detective idioms in an unusual setting"
Berlin at the time of the 1936 Olympics, the growing threat of Nazism and a cynical detective investigating a double murder. The main protagonist is narrated with a Philip Marlow-esque American accent, with all the other characters having German accents - a conceit I got to enjoy. A great detective story, enhanced with the historically interesting setting. This is the first in a series, that I'm happily working my way through. Highly recommended.
"Great Book, Unconvincing Narration"
A superb and well researched detective thriller set in pre-war Germany. The narrator's American accent is totally implausible, however, and ruins an otherwise excellent story. Take a tip from me. If you like Philip Kerr, do yourself a favour and read the book.
"First in a series of excellent books"
I stumbled upon this book by chance ( its the first in a very good series . If you like well plotted, gritty and often grisly detective fiction you will love this. I was unsure at first, but was quickly drawn in, although I did have to pay close attention at first, to get used to the german names and places. Bernie Gunther, our hero, is a cynical, hardbitten survivor, but also a man of honour and compassion, with an ey for a pretty girl.The setting provides a very different backdrop to the usual fodder, and is rich in historical detail. Jeff Harding's narration is as ever simply outstanding, and Philip Kerr series of Bernie Gunther novels just get better and better, I am now on #4. Highly recommended.
I liked Hardings narration of other books I've listened to but I did hear the slight resemblance to Arnold Schwarzenegger that another reviewer referred to but after a few minutes it ceased to be apparent.
The readers enthusiasm with his work made any quibbles with his accents and pronunciation unimportant; I don't speak German so that may have helped.
The story, setting and general vibe of the nasty Nazi's and their spineless minions (and victims) forcing their way through the life and culture of a society like a cancerous growth was very well portrayed.
There are some great lines (referring to the obligatory nazi salute at ubiquitous Berlin parades as "getting a little arm exercise") and humorous asides throughout so even though there is a lot of gruesome ignominy (horrible rape scene, torture) it is lightened by the cynical humour of the main character.
"Entertaining book - grating reading"
My first Philip Kerr read/listen. I enjoyed the historical setting, which seems well researched. A book very much in the Philip Marlowe mould, with the cynical private eye as the main character, who has a heart of gold hidden beneath his hat and trenchcoat.
Unfortunately the reading was quite grating. Jeff Harding dramatises the reading. Not my favourite approach, but not my primary point of contention. Jeff Harding is obviously American and gives his own voice to Bernhard Gunther (our private eye), but everyone else for some reason gets a fake german accent in the style of Arnold Schwarzenegger. The effect is unfortunately unintentionally comic and I had to try my best to abstract from their voices.
"Interesting, a bit ponderous. Great period detail"
A good and very interesting story, prinicipally for the period detail of Germany in 1936. The American accent of Gunther would have been more acceptable had the other excellent voices not been in strongly accented German. The reader is ok though. Whether the Marlowesque dialogue would have been so effective in German accent is something I can't answer.
Story is a bit ponderous and over-written - constant detailed descriptions of walking across the room, opening a door, openings of letters tended to slow the story down.
Kerr also likes you to know how much research he has done - and it's a lot. Good for it's exploration of pre-war Germany under the Nazis, bad in the exposition of hundreds of locations irrelevant to keeping the story moving.
Quite witty and sharp at times but it definitely ain't classic Chandler.
"The German Philip Marlowe"
The template, created by Raymond Chandler, of a laconic, world-weary, former policeman turned P.I. works surprisingly well in a pre-war Berlin setting. The narration, by Jeff Harding, is excellent, with said P.I. Bernie Gunther given an American accent (the other characters having German ones) to underline his Marlowesque credentials. Highly recommended.
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