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Bernie Gunther is the ideal narrator for Philip Kerr's bleak tale of the dirty deals made by victors and vanquished alike in post-war Germany. Having learned that there's no way to distinguish 'the one from the other', the cynical P.I. has the moral clarity to see through the deceit and hypocrisy of both friend and foe. Munich, 1949: Amid the chaos of defeat, it's home to all the backstabbing intrigue that prospers in the aftermath of war. A place where a private eye can find a lot of not-quite-reputable work: cleaning up the Nazi past of well-to-do locals, abetting fugitives in the flight abroad, sorting out rival claims to stolen goods. It's work that fills Bernie with disgust - but it also fills his sorely depleted wallet. Then a woman seeks him out. Her husband has disappeared. She's not looking to get him back - he's a wanted man who ran one of the most vicious concentration camps in Poland. She just wants confirmation that he's dead. It's a simple enough job. But in post-war Germany, nothing is simple...
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About the Author

Philip Kerr was born in Edinburgh and went on to study at the University of Birmingham. He has written three other Bernie Gunther books and a book for children, entitled Children of the Lamp. He lives in London and Cornwall. He is currently working on a new Bernie Gunther novel.

Reviews

Fifteen years after his last Bernie Gunther thriller (A German Requiem), Kerr turns his Berlin Noir trilogy into a quartet. In 1949, Bernie closes down his deranged wife's failing hotel in Berlin and returns to Munich. Drawing on his experience as an ex-cop involuntarily absorbed into the SS during World War II a past that will dog his heels he goes into business as a private detective. His first three cases involve missing persons, including a Nazi guilty of numerous atrocities. To track the man down, Bernie has to immerse himself in a world he'd hoped to leave behind, that of the "Old Comrades" who help Nazis flee Germany. But dangerous as it is, the case is not what it seems, and Bernie soon finds himself in another man's shoes, locked in a desperate struggle to save his own life. Bernie's wicked wit is a delight, the plot is gripping, and the historical settings are masterfully developed. Although Kerr sometimes overdoes his descriptions of characters (wildly inventive similes abound), his dazzling touch will sweep readers away. A profound sense of moral introspection underlies the whole. Highly recommended for all public libraries. Ron Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

One of the great achievements of contemporary crime fiction ... pure Chandler. Powerful and impressive. Welcome back - ObserverKerr brilliantly evokes the edgy atmosphere of the post-war period in one of the most gripping and accomplished detective novels published so far this year - Sunday Times

Set in 1949, Kerr's excellent fourth novel to feature Bernhard Gunther (after 1991's German Requiem) finds the erstwhile PI managing a failing hotel about a mile from the site of the Dachau concentration camp. After the death of his wife, Kirsten, in a mental hospital, he calls it quits and opens a private detective agency. A series of missing-Nazi cases sets Bernie on a course that becomes increasingly complicated until he's beaten to a near pulp, had his little finger chopped off and is sent to a mysterious private estate to recover. There he's drawn into a nightmare involving the American occupation and the CIA, and soon his life hangs in the balance. Kerr's stylish noir writing makes every page a joy to read ("The little mouth tightened into a smile that was all lips and no teeth, like a newly stitched scar"). Perfectly plotted, the book builds to a satisfying conclusion. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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