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Berlin Noir: March Violets; The Pale Criminal; A German Requiem Paperback – January 1, 1994
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Now published in one paperback volume, these three mysteries are exciting and insightful looks at life inside Nazi Germany -- richer and more readable than most histories of the period. We first meet ex-policeman Bernie Gunther in 1936, in March Violets (a term of derision which original Nazis used to describe late converts.) The Olympic Games are about to start; some of Bernie's Jewish friends are beginning to realize that they should have left while they could; and Gunther himself has been hired to look into two murders that reach high into the Nazi Party. In The Pale Criminal, it's 1938, and Gunther has been blackmailed into rejoining the police by Heydrich himself. And in A German Requiem, the saddest and most disturbing of the three books, it's 1947 as Gunther stumbles across a nightmare landscape that conceals even more death than he imagines. (For a review of Kerr's latest novel, The Grid, see our Thrillers section.)
From the Back Cover
Ex-policeman Bernie Gunther thought he'd seen everything on the streets of 1930s Berlin. But then he went freelance, and each case he tackled sucked him further into the grisly excesses of Nazi subculture. And even after the war, amidst the decayed, imperial splendour of Vienna, Bernie uncovered a legacy that made the wartime atrocities look lily-white in comparison...
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Top Customer Reviews
Bernhard (Bernie) Gunther is a hard-boiled Berlin detective who served eleven years as a homicide detective in Kripo (Berlin's criminal police) and left in 1933 when the National Socialists started to purge the force of all non-party members. He becomes a private investigator and then is forced back to Kripo by the Nazis. After witnessing mass killings he fights on the Eastern Front and becomes a POW with the Russians.
Gunther was never a Nazi or a war criminal but went through the war at the front because opposing what was happening was too painful to contemplate. He is not averse to some brutality where necessary in his work, has a tough and rough sense of humour, is constantly cynical but while he is sometimes morally-compromised he has a pragmatic sense of right and wrong.
March Violets: A Bernie Gunther Novel, set in 1936, has Gunther investigating the murder and torching of the daughter and son-in-law of a powerful German steel magnate and an associated safe robbery. The investigation gets mixed up with Nazi issues and Bernie gets involved with Goering (in a cameo role) and Reinhard Heydrich, the prime architect of the Holocaust.
The Pale Criminal: A Bernie Gunther Novel, set in 1938, has Gunther forced back into Kripo by Heydrich to find a serial killer of Aryan teenage girls who are Nazi sympathisers.
A German Requiem: A Bernie Gunther Novel is set after the war in Berlin and mostly in occupied Vienna. Bernie is asked to help a former colleague and black marketeer accused of the murder of an American officer. In the process he gets dangerously involved with both the "Amis" and the "Ivans" in Cold War tensions and with some major war criminals.
Philip Kerr is a first class thriller author who can write heavily-plotted, hard-boiled and frequently violent crime novels seamlessly set against a fascinating background of Berlin before the war and Vienna after the war. This is wonderful stuff for a crime-fiction junkie like me who loves his doses of history with a crime-fiction background. This is the first time that I have read through a trilogy without a break and I really enjoyed all of the books - highly recommended. I am hooked on reading the rest of the series very soon.
Will definitely keep on with Bernie. Well worth the money and the time.