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 ..Show More »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.
This is the second title in the "Berlin Noir" trilogy. Set in Berlin of 1938, Bernie Gunther is investigating a serial killer specialising in young Ge..Show More »rman girls. Meanwhile, elements of the Nazi party are attempting to use the killings to stir up anti-Jewish rioting. An excellent story, with more interesting detail of Berlin in the 30's and the Nazi threat.
Having listened to A German Requiem (and thoroughly enjoying it) I couldn't help noting Mr Kerr's homage to Chandler et al (bits of McBain, Elroy as w..Show More »ell) being fully displayed in the way the novel worked as I listened to it. Also there was a feel of The Third Man (as well as getting a plug in the actual story) and I loved the way his first person structure depicted the desperate immediate post-war atmosphere of the defeated Germany and Austria through the eyes of Gunter. In the end I was rooting for this poor battered hero as he triumphed over his adversaries while at the same time achieving an almost cathartic closure to his past indiscretions. I wonder if there is (or will be) a sequel to this very accomplished novel. There should be.
Philip Kerr writes fine thrillers, and this is one of his best.
The genre is what you might term a 'noir thriller' typified best perhaps ..Show More »by Raymond Chandler, but what gives the book its spice and bite is that the story is set in post-war central Europe. The formula works really well, and the author skillfully weaves into the plot the thread of moral ambivalence that must have characterised the times in that part of the world. The characters are well drawn, and Philip Kerr works in very plausible references to real life villains such as Eichmann. The central character, Bernie Gunther, is not painted as a perfect human being, which I think greatly adds to the story, which is meticulously plotted, written with great pace and verve, and put in a fascinating and interesting historical context.
Narration by Jeff Harding is well judged and paced and greatly enhances the listening pleasure.
Incidentally, this is the fourth book in a sequence (but can be easily read on its own).
A Quiet Flame is skilfully done - weaving 1950's Buenos Aires with an unsolved murder from Berlin in 1932 almost seamlessly.
What appear..Show More »s to be a simple case turns out to be anything but; twist is piled upon twist, and Gunther unwraps layer after layer until the final shocking revelation is revealed.
And at the heart of the story once again is Bernie Gunther - this time under a new guise and living in South America - but up against old adversaries and uncovering murky secrets from the past. Once again, this is peopled with real personalities - Juan and Evita Peron, Adolf Eichmann, Joseph Mengele etc. - and blends fiction with conjecture based upon historical fact. Kerr breaths life convincingly into his characters and settings - and the history is seriously well done.
Brilliant narration again by Jeff Harding.
Note that this is the 5th in the series and should be listened to after the preceding four.
Disappointing after the previous novels. The German half of the book was excellent and provided some useful background to the series as a whole. Howev..Show More »er, the Cuba switch was full of too many predictable features.
It is an excellent book in the Bernie Gunter series, but what happened to Jeff Harding? His American accent fitted the cynical 'film-noir-ish' charac..Show More »ter of the books. This narrator does OK, but his accent is too English (though I think he is Canadian).
I have thoroughly enjoyed (perhaps not the right word) this series. The question mark is about whether one can enjoy such an horrific tale. The whole ..Show More »series moves through the rise of Nazism in the 30s, the War period and then the early 50s. Bernie is a likeable, hard-working, hard-living cop who hates Nazism but finds himself involved despite himself. This particular book differs from the others in that it sticks to one time period, 1941. Bernie is taken off his investigation into the death of a Dutch railwayman in Berlin to stay with Heydrich in Prague. His involvement with Heydrich is again a theme through the books, and is one of the causes of his problems with the Amis in post war Germany. He hates the man for who he is and what he does, but can't stand out against him. We know what happens to Heydrich, and the terrible revenge that is taken on Lidice, as does Bernie, but he can't alter the way he acted then. This is one of the more recent books, so if you have followed the series you know some of what happens to him in the future. But are we just driven by events or can we alter them? Could he have made different choices? Bernie tries to stay out of the worst, but does knowing about it and not taking part make you any better? This book is read by Paul Hecht. Some of the others by Jeff Harding. When you come across a different reader in a series it can cause difficulties, but although different, both readers work for this author and are excellent.
I am enjoying this book and have enjoyed the rest of the series. I really appreciate the author's ability to evoke the period with details about the c..Show More »ulture, clothes, fashions, military equipment and the social attitudes.
My criticism for this book in the series concerns the editing. There are several places where the narrator repeats himself - word for word almost. I think this is where the narrator has a go at two takes of a pronunciation or intonation of a sentence but doesn't want to break his flow by stopping and leaves it to the editor to tidy up. This may also account for Paul Hecht's stilted style in places. The odd gaps are not his fault and should have been removed during editing.
I was disappointed with the last Bernie Gunther novel, "A man without breath" as I felt the franchise was running out of steam, plus the chang..Show More »e of narrator from Jeff Harding to Paul Hecht had robbed the story of great characterisation. The only reason I listened to this was because of the return of Jeff Harding; wise-cracking Bernie himself in my view.
Sadly, polished narration does not change the fact that this is a tired series. For sure, Jeff does an accomplished job in terms of bringing all of the characters to life, but this series is in intensive care compared to the first "Berlin trilogy". The cracks are not as wise (or rapid-fire), the bad guys are not as scary, and the sex and violence is mushy compared to the hard edge of the earlier novels. Bernie is older now and it shows, his steely cynicism feels more like whining bitterness; he is softer, maybe a bit flabby and just ...... tired.
I have long followed Bernie Gunter and think Jeff Harding amongst the two best narrators...and this was back to form. For me a pleasure....intelligen..Show More »ce, believable characters, snippets of history and enough twists. I listen to lots of crime books but these are a cut above everything. Up there with Peter Mays Scottish books ....but I prefer Bernie Gunters character-which I could get drink on schnapps with him one day.