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March Violets Paperback – Bargain Price, July 27, 2004

3.8 out of 5 stars 137 customer reviews
Book 1 of 11 in the Bernie Gunther Series

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Paperback, Bargain Price, July 27, 2004
$13.36 $8.55

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The brutality and corruption of Nazi Germany serve as the backdrop for this impressive debut mystery novel. Scottish-born Kerr re-creates the period accurately and with verve; the novel reeks of the sordid decade that saw Hitler's rise to power. Bernhard Gunther is a hard-boiled Berlin detective who specializes in tracking down missing persons--mostly Jews. He is summoned by a wealthy industrialist to find the murderer of his daughter and son-in-law, killed during the robbery of a priceless diamond necklace. Gunther quickly is catapulted into a major political scandal involving Hitler's two main henchmen, Goering and Himmler. The search for clues takes Gunther to morgues overflowing with Nazi victims; raucous nightclubs; the Olympic games where Jesse Owens tramples the theory of Aryan racial superiority; the boudoir of a famous actress; and finally to the Dachau concentration camp. Fights with Gestapo agents, shoot-outs with adulterers, run-ins with a variety of criminals, and dead bodies in unexpected places keep readers guessing to the very end. Narrator Gunther is a spirited guide through the chaos of 1930s Berlin and, more important, a detective cast in the classic mold. Kerr is at work on a sequel to this sparkling and witty tale.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Wonderfully sharp and satirical." —Times


"Fast-paced, laconic, unpredictable, and witty." —Evening Standard


"An impressive debut." —Guardian
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Group USA (July 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142004146
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142004142
  • ASIN: B000GG4FLI
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 4.9 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,231,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Grey Wolffe VINE VOICE on January 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
From page one the strength of narrative and the wisecracking of the PI Bernhard "Bernie" Gunther is a detective novel readers dream. Philip Kerr is able to bring 1936 Berlin alive it all it's nationalistic insanity. His ability to describe how the Nazi party had taken total control of this nation is remarkable.

He has picked-up the nuance of how people delude themselves into believing what they are told, no matter how implausible.

Right from the start you know that Gunther is as cynical as you can be, without being arrested by the Gestapo (which he is at a later point of the book). The way he weaves the disillusionment of the average German, while at the same time showing how they just acquiest to what was going on. Unlike most books about Germany at this time, he presents the Nazi's as people not cardboard cutouts. He does, though, show them in all their sadism and brutality. But it is a brutality that has become humdrum and expected. No one is surprised by what is going on. Everyone is just hoping it doesn't happen to them.

Especially appealing is Gunther's gumshoe comments and asides as to what is going on. At one point he gets out of his car and gives the "Hitler salute" when the party standard is paraded by. His comment, "it's not worth taking a beating for not saluting". He tells of a circulating joke, that next to Jews, Hitler hates homosexuals and cripples the most. The punch line is that everyone but Hitler knows that his Minister of Propaganda, Joseph "Joey" Goebbels has a club foot.

You can just imagine Robert Mitchum or Humphrey Bogart playing this "fleabite" PI. He drinks, he smokes, and he's like a junkyard dog when it comes to doing his job.
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Format: Paperback
If you enjoy/enjoyed the old-school crime novels with characters like Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade, you'll enjoy March Violets, which is set in Berlin in 1936 and features tough-talking, hard-drinking, chain-smoking and cynical Bernhard Gunther. Gunther is an ex-cop, now private investigator hired by a rich businessman to find some jewelry that was stolen, and which had belonged to the businessman's recently murdered daughter. In addition, Gunther is "requested" by Herman Goering to find some important missing papers. I found Kerr's description of prewar Berlin and life in Nazi Germany to be very good, and considered the plot to be engrossing. These two elements are worthy of a 4- 4 1/2 star rating. What brought my overall rating of March Violets down to 3 1/2 stars is that I found that Kerr went somewhat overboard in portraying Gunther's tough guy attitude and in having Gunther speak ad nauseum in cliches. At times, I felt that Kerr was trying to create a satire of the type of detective novels that were popular in the '30s, '40s and '50s. March Violets is a good book that held my attention, and created enough interest to make me want to read the next book in Kerr's Berlin Noir trilogy. However, unless you are a lover of crime noir books, March Violets is not a book that I'd recommend you rush out to buy and put at the top of your To Be Read list.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you like books by Jo Nesbo, Lee Child, John Lescroart, John Sanford, Michael Connelly, etc., you will like this book. If you are curious about prewar Hitler Germany you will love this book. I first read Field Gray, a 2010 Kerr "Bernie Gunther" novel and wanted to read more and found the Berlin Noir Trilogy. This is the first book and I will read the second.
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Format: Paperback
If you are a fan of Raymond Chandler or Dashiel Hammett, you'll love Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther. Set in 1936 Berlin, Gunther is a former police detective turned private eye, who is every bit as jaded, cynical and hard as Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe, with an equally sharp wit and resistance to authority. This, of course, doesn't earn Gunther the good will of the powers-that-be, the Nazis weren't universally beloved even in 1936, as Kerr deflt shows - there are pleny of old Bolsheviks, Social Democrats and Conservatives who have no love for the National Socalists. In this politically charged setting (heightened further by the pending Olympic Games, the Nazi government very aware of the public face they want to show the world), Gunter is hired by a wealthy industrialist to investigate a robbery and double-murder.

As with any noir-novel, things quickly spiral well beyond the initial investigation, as Gunther crosses paths with the Gestapo (who also have an interest in the case), Berlin's organized crime rings and more than one femme-fatale. Added to this gritty mix are several plot-twists and red-herrings worthy of the masters of noir genre. The resolution of the mystery - or mysteries as it turns out - was so complex and convoluted, fraught with dead-ends and suprises that I was hopless in resolving it myself, in the end simply turning myself over to Kerr's writing allowing him to take me where he would as the pieces eventually came together. As a fan of the genre, I can't ask more of a writer.

It was with tremendous pleasure then, that Kerr writes Berlin (a city that is dear to my heart) so well. The detailed references to landmarks, stations, and locales (both extant and long-gone) made me a little homesick for the city.
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