Thursday, July 07, 2016

12. A German Requiem by Phillip Kerr

The third of the Berlin Noir trilogy (though not the last of the Bernie Gunther series, I believe), A German Requiem takes place in Berlin and Vienna after the fall of the Reich.  It's another really cool setting and a great, if slightly forced, context for a private detective.  This time, Gunther is hired to get an old comrade in the Berlin police (and later the SS) off of a murder charge.  The plot gets complicated quickly, as anything does in post-war Germany, with the US, the other Allies and the Russians all fighting for power and slicing up the remains of the German pie, not to mention the old Nazis who may or may not still be running around.  It almost got too complicated, but was enjoyable all the way through.  Kerr does a great job of painting on evocative picture and Gunther is a great hard-boiled private eye with a conscience in the classic mold.  He can punch, shoot and fuck with the best of them.  The only real flaw is that this book also features a semi-innocent woman who has horrible things done to her.  It's probably not unrealistic for the setting, but it happened in two out of three books in the trilogy and it feels like it falls a bit on the exploitative side.  If you can handle those things, then I would say the Berlin Noir lives up to its billing. 

Holy crap, I just did a bit of research and see that Kerr has continued writing Bernie Gunther novels and that there are 11 now!

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