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tagesmann

The Bernie Gunther novels

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The first three books in this series were March Violets (1989), The Pale Criminal (1990) and A German Requiem (1991).  They are available individually or as omnibus volume titled Berlin Noir.

 

After a long break Philip Kerr returned to writing about Bernie Gunther and has written another nine (so far) novels.

The One From The Other (2006)

A Quiet Flame (2008)

If the Dead Rise Not (2009)

Field Grey (2010)

Prague Fatale (2011)

A Man Without Breath (2013)

The Lady from Zagreb (2015)

The Other Side of Silence (2016)

The Wedding Tree (2016)

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March Violets.

 

1936.   Bernhard Günther is a 38-year-old ex-cop turned private detective.  He is hired by rich industrialist Hermann Six to recover a diamond necklace stolen from his daughter Grete's house. As part of the robbery, both his daughter and her husband, Paul Pfarr, were murdered and the house was set on fire.

 

The main historical characters involved in this novel are Herman Goering and Reinhard Heydrich.

 

Themes are organised crime, Nazis, power struggle and blackmail.

 

 

"March violets" were opportunist late-comers to the Nazi Party after the passage of Hitler's Enabling Act rendering him dictator, on March 23, 1933.

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The Pale Criminal.

 

Set in 1938, two years after the events of March Violets, Bernhard (Bernie) Günther has taken Bruno Stahlecker, another ex-police officer, as his partner. The two are working on a case where a Frau Lange, owner of a large publishing house, is being blackmailed for the homosexual love letters her son Reinhardt sent to his psychotherapist Dr. Kindermann.  At the same time, Günther is forced to look for a serial sex murderer, who is killing blond and blue-eyed teenage girls in Berlin and making fools of the police. Günther has no choice but to accept the temporary post of Kriminalkommissar in the state Security Service, with a team of policemen working underneath him.

 

Historical characters include Arthur Nebe, Reinhard Heydrich and Heinrich Himmler.

 

Themes include Naziism, Persecution of Jews, the occult and the lead up to Kristallnacht.

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A German Requiem.

 

1947.  After spending the end of war in a Soviet prisoner-of-war camp Bernhard Günther is in Berlin and married.

 

An old colleague from Günther's days in Berlin, a dirty cop, war criminal, and smuggler named Emil Becker, has been accused and jailed in Vienna for the killing of an American officer. A high-ranking MVD officer recruits Günther to investigate the case.

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The One From the Other.

 

1949.  Based in Munich Bernie has moved to Munich and sets himself up as a private investigator. When the beautiful Frau Britta Warzok hires him for an apparently simple job, Bernie's suspicions flare but the money is too good to turn down. Soon, Bernie is on the run, because in a defeated and divided Germany.

 

 

 

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    • By tagesmann
      Berlin Noir (1993) is a collection of three books featuring Bernhard "Bernie" Gunther.
       
      March Violets (1989) is set in Berlin in 1936 at the time of the Summer Olympics. Gunther is a typical (ex-policeman) private detective - very much in the classic noir style, hence the name for this collection. He specialises in tracking down missing persons - mostly Jews. Called in by a wealthy industrialist to solve the murders of his daughter and her husband.
      (“March violets” were late-comers to the Nazi Party after the passage of Hitler's Enabling Act (rendering him dictator) on March 23, 1933. In May, the Nazi Party froze membership.)
       
      The Pale Criminal (1990) and the story moves on to 1938. Gunther's is forced (by Heydrich) to rejoin the police with the rank of of Kriminalkommissar in Heydrich's state Security Service to investigate a series of sexual murders.
       
      A German Requiem (1991) takes place in 1947 in Berlin and Vienna. Having spent the end and immediate aftermath of the war in a Soviet prisoner-of-war camp, Gunther is back in Berlin and trying to survive without work or the prospect of any. An old colleague of Gunther's days in the Berlin police has been jailed in Vienna for the killing of an American officer, and he employs Gunther to investigate the case and prove his innocence. The case involves former Nazis hired by the U.S. to spy on the Russians.
       
      All three books are enjoyable and bring the period brilliantly to life. Highly recommended... if you like that sort of thing.
    • By tagesmann
      The One from the Other (2006) features the return of Bernie Gunther. Philip Kerr's hard-nosed detective is back with us.
       
      Munich, 1949. Gunther is running a hotel and not making a very good job of it. When his wife dies in hospital he sells up and sets himself up as a private detective again. He is employed by a woman whose husband has disappeared. She's doesn't want him back. She just wants confirmation that he's dead. It's a simple job.. not.
       
      We find out that Gunther had to join the SS to stay in the police and then got posted to the Eastern Front. And we also realise that in a world of ex-Nazi's, and ex-soldiers it isn't always possible to tell who where good, who were bad and who were the victims.
    • By tagesmann
      A Quiet Flame (2008).
       
      Set in 1950's Argentina with flash-backs to 1930's Berlin. Gunther has assumed the disguise of an ex-Nazi and relocated thanks to the Peron regime. Here he is asked to help trace some Jewish refugees who have disappeared and co-opted by the Argentine secret police to investigate the mutilation of young girls that seem to be similar to an unsolved case from his days as a policeman in Germany.
       
      This is a great adventure which exposes the darkness of post war Agentina, and Nazi war criminals who still behave as if they can get away with anything they want.
    • By tagesmann
      If the Dead Rise Not (2009).
       
      Berlin 1934.
      The Olympics are coming to Germany but America might boycott them. Gunther is now a house detective at The Adlon hotel and becomes involved in the dodgy deals to keep the games on track.
       
      Havana 1954.
      The American Mafia is involved in the gaming and prostitution industries. Gunther becomes involved with an ex-lover and old adversary and murder. And he dwells more on his past and what he did to survive the war
    • By tagesmann
      Field Grey (2010).
       
      With flashbacks to 1931 Berlin, the Eastern Front and 1954 Germany in this novel we find out more about Gunther's war-time experiences. Exploring his self-hatred this is the most powerful of the books so far. Not as much fun as the others (of course) but brilliant.
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