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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Have Gun, Will Travel
Bernie Gunther, cynical gumshoe and knight errant, reprises his Philip Marlowe role as interface between the malevolent but pragmatic wing of Nazi Party functionaries, various tough guys and the clever but hazardous-to-be-personally-involved with (female) client. As before, many of the dramatis personnae are actual historical figures, the attention to historical detail...
Published on March 21, 2010 by Keith A. Comess

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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Weakest of the Series
Bernie Gunther has been very entertaining - the life he lives, created by Kerr, takes us from the trenches of WW1 now to 1950's Cuba. I have read each entry and appreciate the hard-boiled character, the history mash-ups, and the underlying mysteries. Unfortunately, this effort does not measure up to the previous works. The plot was slow and predictable. The first half of...
Published on April 24, 2010 by Jeffrey Swystun


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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Have Gun, Will Travel, March 21, 2010
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This review is from: If the Dead Rise Not (Bernie Gunther) (Hardcover)
Bernie Gunther, cynical gumshoe and knight errant, reprises his Philip Marlowe role as interface between the malevolent but pragmatic wing of Nazi Party functionaries, various tough guys and the clever but hazardous-to-be-personally-involved with (female) client. As before, many of the dramatis personnae are actual historical figures, the attention to historical detail is exemplary, the dialogue redolent of Raymond Chandler, the plot cunning and the denouement (this time set in pre-Castro Cuba during the Batista regimes' early end-game) is cleverly executed. In short, this is vintage Kerr and, as such, is well worth reading.

In the current story, initially set in pre-War Berlin (circa 1934) Gunther encounters a mix of real and fictional characters, including American "businessman" (well, actually he's a gangster) Max Reles, Nazi Police General von Helldorf, Gestapo agent Weinberger (nope, not a crypto-Jew, despite the suggestive name, a fact that assumes importance in the story), corrupt American Olympic Committee functionary Avery Brundage, several SS and KRIPO members and Noreen Eisner, femme semi-fatale and Bernie's romantic interest. This time, Gunther, while working as Adlon Hotel carpet-creeper, encounters the vivacious Noreen, a Jewish journalist working on a newspaper article which will demonstrate ongoing Nazi anti-Jewish behavior (akin to exposing corruption in the police; an exercise in exposing the obvious). Why? She plans to use the article as a vehicle in which the murder of a Jewish boxer will convince one-and-all that there are dire machinations between the AOC representative (Brundage), Max Reles and the German Olympic Committee Reichssportführer, Hans von Tschammer und Osten (who also serves as leader of the Deutscher Reichsbund für Leibesübungen and, not to be overlooked, is an SA Gruppenführer) all of which should convince the American government to cancel US participation in the Games. This all occurs, of course, with the connivance of a bewildering array of complicit agents on both sides of the Atlantic.

One of the outstanding features of the Gunther series is its ability to acquaint current readers with some of the lesser-known but thoroughly nasty characters who have generally escaped historical scrutiny, Avery Brundage being a prime example of the type. This cynical, corrupt, sanctimonious and immensely wealthy scion of American nobility, inflicted his insipid presence on the Olympic scene right up through the 1972 Munich/Black September debacle. Under the guise of impartial sportsmanship, Brundage lined his pockets with public funds and undermined the integrity of the institution he was serving. Helldorf, who literally lost his head in 1944 when he fell afoul of his own plotting, is an almost Hollywood style Nazi, coming as he did from a "noble" family. Naturally, he was fond of indulging in all the debaucheries favored by most delicately decadent members of the elite (and so richly caricaturized by so many lesser authors) is another chap whose curriculum vitae should be known to all lovers of the noir genre. Reles, a Jewish thug, on the other hand, is a fictional character, but he is a stand-in for the sort of people Brundage and von Helldorf held near and dear.

So, having been introduced to the German side of the "If the Dead Rise Not" coin in the first half of the novel, what comes next? Readers of the series will recall that Bernie, late of KRIPO, the SS, the Abwehr and the US CIC amongst others, was implicated in the murders of two women in the previous story in the series, "A Quiet Flame". With the aid of the "Old Comrades" (ODESSA) and the CIA (Operation Paperclip), Bernie arrived in Argentina hoping to lead a shy and retiring life but (of course!) becomes involved in another dire plot. In the second half of "Dead", he surfaces in 1954 Cuba, where he again encounters Reles, this time as a member of the American "expat" criminal community which includes the entire pantheon of American Jewish gangsters (e.g., the Lansky brothers, Nathan Rothman) and select members of the Mafia (Joe Stassi, Santo Trafficante, etc, etc). He also meets the nefarious Lieutenant Quevedo, who has all the attributes of the sophisticated Nazis Bernie is accustomed to dealing with. He also encounters the mordant and occasionally helpful Captain Sanchez, analogue of the occasionally helpful Nazis Bernie is accustomed to dealing with illustrating that human nature has certain enduring refrains, regardless of which side of the ocean you live on. Bernie also, not surprisingly, again encounters Noreen, who resides at Ernest Hemingway's Cuban farm. Thus, we have the Cuban dramatis personnae.

As before, the book hews to the Chandler-Hammett-Ellroy style. This is not a criticism; its a compliment. So is the liberal use of Chandler-style dialogue. Here are a couple of examples: "As you can see, he might have been a Jew...Although from the rest of him, you wouldn't say he looks like a Jew at all", to which Bernie replies, "The strangest people are these days", or this lapidary Bernie-ism, "These days, a considerate German is someone who doesn't knock at your door early in the morning in case you think it's the Gestapo." Bernie says, "I'm not a Nazi. I'm a German. And a German is different from a Nazi. A German is a man who manages to overcome his worst prejudices. A Nazi is a man who turns them into laws." Kerr even borrows a lick from the Robert Towne "Chinatown" script: a body found floating in fresh water with salt water in its lungs ("Salt water bad for glass"). The meticulous attention to historical detail also continues from previous books and reflects diligent and comprehensive research by the author.

"Dead" is a really first-rank detective thriller. The sparkling dialogue, deeply researched history, cleverly contrived story lines and Kerr's unique ability to avoid the sort of self-parody that many modern mystery series writers eventually fall prey to command attention and respect. Perhaps in future installments, hoping there are some, Kerr will concentrate more on Bernie during the pre-War and WW-II years. Regardless, any and all these books are well worth reading.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Some of us die in a day. For some, like me, it takes much longer than that.", March 21, 2010
This review is from: If the Dead Rise Not (Bernie Gunther) (Hardcover)
Time for a real review instead of comments on Kindle pricing?

This, the sixth book in Philip Kerr's remarkable Bernie Gunther series, shows that the author hasn't lost his knack for combining classic noir mysteries (complete with a hard-nosed investigator who cracks wise at the drop of a fedora) with a more thoughtful narrative that delves into the harsh realities of the ordinary individual face-to-face with some of the harshest political regimes of the 1930s, 40s and 50s. It isn't Kerr's best, but it's a fascinating story that manages to bookend the improbable odyssey of Gunther, who readers first met in the mid-1930s as an already-world weary and worldly wise private investigator in Nazi Berlin and last saw leaving behind the new Peronist dictatorship in Argentina with a new name that he hopes will keep him safe from myriad enemies that he has inadvertently left in his wake.

The book starts in Berlin in 1934, when Bernie has left the police department (the philosophy of jumping before he gets pushed out as a Social Democrat and thus politically undesirable) in the wake of the Nazi takeover and finds himself working as the house detective at Berlin's famous Adlon Hotel. That doesn't keep him out of political hot water, however; he finds that two dead bodies, one in one of the Adlon's best rooms and the other fished out of the Landwehr Canal with its lungs full of seawater, appear to be linked by politics -- specifically, by politics surrounding the upcoming Berlin Olympics and the efforts by some groups to boycott the games in view of the Nazi regime's anti-Jewish policies. The first 2/3 or so of the book revolves around this set of mysteries; then the reader is abruptly transported to Cuba circa 1953, where Bernie is now making a living, even more cynical about life and people than he had been two decades previously. Suddenly, figures from the past appear, disrupting that effort at a peaceful existence and his hopes of returning to Germany, and he finds himself embroiled not only in past mysteries but a present plot, involving Mafia figures like the Lansky brothers and the opposition by one Fidel Castro and his supporters to the Bautista regime...

The first part of the book is more satisfying and I felt that Kerr could have simply wrapped up his story at that point; the temptation to simultaneously address some of the loose threads (or invent them and then wrap them up) while at the same time answer the urgent question of what happened to Bernie after he had to leave Argentina behind in A Quiet Flame: A Novel (Bernie Gunther Novels) must have been too great to resist, but it doesn't necessarily make the story any stronger, and it does make it more difficult for newer readers to jump into the series at this point. Still, the impeccable writing, Bernie's character, complete with flashes of wit and unexpected glimpses of a more complex and even thoughtful and erudite individual beneath the Dick Tracy-esque exterior, make this a great read, and Kerr nails the atmosphere of both pre-war Berlin and pre-Castro Cuba. Even knowing what happened to Bernie Gunther during the intervening years, thanks to the other books in this series, didn't spoil the suspense of the first part, and the ending to this one has me hoping that somehow Kerr will find a way to carve out some kind of resolution for the hapless Bernie Gunther -- in other words, hoping for a seventh book in the series.

If you haven't read any of the others in this series, this is NOT the place to start. There's a good trilogy that begins with Kerr's first book to feature Bernie Gunther, Berlin Noir: March Violets; The Pale Criminal; A German Requiem, and that is just as good. This book functions as a prequel to March Violets and a sequel to the events in A Quiet Flame, and is probably the only one in the series that can't be read independently, at least in my opinion. That's OK, because the fans of the series will enjoy this the most -- for me, as for them, it's likely to be at least 4.5 stars and possibly 5; for others, 4 stars. I'm going with the former rating in part to offset the one-star reviews by people protesting the Kindle rating without having read the book. If the reviews end up being more balanced in a few months, when more readers have chimed in, I'll re-post this review with a 4-star rating to reflect the gap between new readers and existing fans. Regardless, this is a great series, and fans of authors like Alan Furst will love it.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Weakest of the Series, April 24, 2010
By 
Jeffrey Swystun (Toronto & Mont Tremblant) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: If the Dead Rise Not (Bernie Gunther) (Hardcover)
Bernie Gunther has been very entertaining - the life he lives, created by Kerr, takes us from the trenches of WW1 now to 1950's Cuba. I have read each entry and appreciate the hard-boiled character, the history mash-ups, and the underlying mysteries. Unfortunately, this effort does not measure up to the previous works. The plot was slow and predictable. The first half of the book in 1934 Germany moved at a glacier-like pace and the whole gangster angle was actually boring. Still the history was accurate and Bernie's Zelig-like appearances with leading figures of the day continues to intrigue. I am now torn between desiring another one or letting Bernie retire after a life well lived.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sam Spade with umlauts, March 28, 2010
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This review is from: If the Dead Rise Not (Bernie Gunther) (Hardcover)
"If the Dead Rise Not" is the latest in Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther series, and for the most part, it's a good read. Once again, the story sprawls through two periods of time in protagonist Gunther's entertaining lifeline. More than half of the novel takes place in Berlin in 1934. Germany is competing to host the 1936 Olympics (these designations were made pretty close to the event in those days). Gunther is working as a house detective at the plush Adlon Hotel after being forced out of the police force by the new Nazi government. A death in the hotel is soon linked to the discovery of a body in the Spree Canal, which turns out to be a Jewish boxer who was working on an Olympics-related construction project. Gunther is soon dealing with high-level corruption, anti-Jewish persecution by the Nazis, a dangerous American gangster and a femme fatale who could literally become the death of him.

From 1934 Germany, the saga jumps to 1954 Havana, where old relationships with the same cast of characters pick up again. This part of the book is rather good at evoking the wide-open tropical playground that existed in Cuba before the downfall of the Batista dictatorship and the beginning of the Castro period. Old scores are settled and new scenarios are established for Bernie Gunther's next adventure.

"If the Dead..." is chock-a-block full of interesting characters and lots of period flavor. It is not an action thriller by a long shot, although Bernie Gunther seems to be increasingly taking on "super powers" as he battles the bad guys in his path and/or just struggles to survive. To get through the Nazi period in Germany, World War II, imprisonment by the Soviets, working for the Peronists and co-existing with American gangsters and Cuban police thugs, author Kerr has resorted to the creation of a very complicated character for his protagonist. There are times in this book when elements of that character construct become contradictory, leaving Gunther looking over-comprised in the interest of survival and therefore more like an anti-hero. That might be Kerr's intention.

Any real reservations I have about the book stem from the hyper-snappy patter (on steroids) that characterizes the dialogue in the first part of the novel. If you can avoid the image of Humphrey Bogart speaking Gunther's lines, you've got stronger mental discipline than I do. That said, the dialogue is often quite witty and entertaining.

This is an engaging, if not perfect, story in an excellent series. More to follow, no doubt.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, March 22, 2010
By 
Nick Brett (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: If the Dead Rise Not (Bernie Gunther) (Hardcover)
This was my first introduction to both Philip Kerr and his sardonic and world weary detective, Bernie Gunther and I am delighted with my discovery.
This is historical crime fiction of the highest order, set in Berlin in 1934 just as the Nazi's were starting to promote anti-Semitic views and attitudes and where the wrong thing said in the wrong place can result in serious repercussions. Gunther is a hotel detective and a death of one resident and the theft from another brings him into a world of corruption, gangsters and mistrust, all set around the planned Berlin Olympics. Gunther follows the link, encouraged by an attractive American journalist and finds himself in more trouble then even he can handle.....
The author then takes a brave and interesting step my moving the story forward 20 years to Havana under Batista and some of the old protagonists find themselves meeting up again, and things are still not what they seem......
An interesting thriller with a very atmospheric setting, traumatic at times as the story is set at the time where the Jews are being persecuted but before the 'final solution' is put in place, it gives 1934 Germany, and the story, a very dark background and the author really does bring it to life. Likewise when the story moves to Cuba the author captures the feel of the time very well indeed.
A great story, and a complex and involving led character. I have read reviews elsewhere that suggest this is not the best story to feature Gunther, if they are correct then I have a few treats on the way as I catch up with the series. Excellent stuff indeed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not up to the previous 5, June 17, 2010
By 
C. Bohl (Redwood City, California United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: If the Dead Rise Not (Bernie Gunther) (Hardcover)
I was knocked over by the five previous Gunther stories and for the same reasons that many of the reviewers have mentioned. Gunther is a great character and letting him work in Nazi Germany a stroke of genius. Add in Kerr's formidable literary skills and you have a great detective series. But "If the Dead..." just didn't make it for me. Many of the ingredients are there, but the main story lines (his love affair with Noreen; Olympic construction corruption; the Cuba section; somehow lacked the intensity of his previous work. The book should have been shorter given the content (first time I ever felt that way about a Gunther book); there was way too much insignificant dialogue; and Gunther's main antagonist, Max Reles, was not even a Nazi, but an American gangster. My advice to Kerr, and I say this because I am rooting for him to continue this series, would be to take longer over the next book; spend time with your editor on ways to tighten up the book, and stay with Nazi Germany. Juan Peron and Fulgencia Batista were fourth rate little tyrants. Hitler and the Nazis were pure evil. Those are the guys I want to see Gunther take on.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing, April 9, 2010
This review is from: If the Dead Rise Not (Bernie Gunther) (Hardcover)
It seems that Philip Kerr is simply churning out Bernie Gunther books in a dull and formulaic style, and it is hard to believe that this is the same author who gave us the marvelous Berlin Noir. The book before this one, A Quiet Flame, was the weakest in the series, and lacked the thrill and excitement of the previous books. However, this latest entry into the Bernie Gunther series is an even duller copycat of that one.

Like A Quiet Flame, this story takes place in 2 different time periods. But whereas the Nazi era story kept A Quiet Flame alive and gave it some substance, this book is equally as dull and silly in both time periods covered.

The story begins in Berlin in 1934. Just like in a Quiet Flame, Bernie falls in love with a beautiful but not very bright woman, and ends up screwing himself over. Even when he knows he's being foolish and treading in dangerous territory, it appears that his brain has firmly planted itself into his crotch. While Noreen isn't as dumb as Anna in Flame, or as abrasive, she is nevertheless exceedingly naive and clueless. The plot is just not very interesting, and Kerr pushes it along by having Bernie repeatedly captured, tortured, imprisoned--and then repeats the scenario. The final scene is pulled right out of Quiet Flame, where Bernie is on an airplane and has to talk his way out of being pushed to his death. In this book, he is on a boat, and much the same thing is going on.

The story then abruptly ends, and picks up in Havana, 20 years later. As in Flame, there is no sense of actually being in Cuba, or any sense of the time period. Kerr name drops like crazy, and just like Forest Gump, Bernie brushes shoulders with the Lansky boys, Ernest Hemingway, the president, Desi Arnaz--I guess that's Kerr's way of trying to convince us that this is Cuba circa 1954. I half expected Desi to approach Bernie at the club and invite him to be on I Love Lucy, being that everyone else who is of any importance seems to need Bernie's help.

This segment is just plain awful, as it is contrived, pointless and plotless. Spoilers ahead...after 20 years, Bernie just happens to run into Noreen in Cuba. And in the same day, his old adversary Max just happens to show up at Noreen's house. Actually, the house belongs to Ernest Hemingway who just happens to be Noreen's friend. And he just happens to be out of town, so Noreen can use it. And Max just happens to be dating Noreen's daughter. The coincidences are annoying, silly, and totally unbelievable.

Noreen has a 19 year old daughter, and since it is exactly 20 years since she last saw Bernie, we know of course that it is his daughter.

This story follows the same sad formula as its predecessor. Max is murdered early on, and of course, we know that Bernie did it even though a feeble attempt is made to point the finger at Noreen. And when Noreen asks Bernie for the BIG FAVOR, which will screw him up royally, he puts up a weak little fight, but in the end, we know that he will make a huge sacrifice just to make silly and selfish Noreen happy. In this case, he ruins his chances to leave Cuba and take a job in Germany. After 5 years in exile, he has a chance to go home, but he blows it because of the damsel in distress. Wow, what a guy. And this time its really pathetic, because Noreen's request is to help her lover who has been arrested by the secret police!

I can't say that I felt sorry for him, because I was nearly asleep by then, trying to get through the book. So I guess poor Bernie will just have to wile away his time in Cuba, drinking booze and screwing prostitutes for another 6 years, until Castro comes to power. But cheer up, Bernie, maybe another dumb woman will have you do her a favor and you may even get to spend those 6 years in prison or even get deported.

Like many authors, Kerr should have ended his Bernie Gunther series 2 books ago. I can safely say that I won't be buying any more of these books. It's time to put Bernie Gunther to rest, since he has clearly lost interest in the character and the series.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bernie gunther is the best, March 20, 2014
I am nearing the end of the Bernie Gunther series of novels and i can honestly say i have not enjoyed anyone else's work as much. All of the books are amazing; so well conceived and researched. They are a chance to understand what it must have been like to live in Germany in the years preceding WWII.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read!, November 27, 2013
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A great read. Philip Kerr has moulded Bernie Gunther into a good character with clever wit and intelligence. But with some human frailties. Gunther has got a sense of humour not dissimilar to Clive James! The historical nature of the book is interesting too. I thoroughly recommend the read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent stuff, November 17, 2013
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PHilip Kerr always gives Bernie Gunther a good gripping story and the background of Nazi Germany is wonderfully brought to life.
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If the Dead Rise Not (Bernie Gunther)
If the Dead Rise Not (Bernie Gunther) by Philip Kerr (Hardcover - March 18, 2010)
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