Gunther

Ten months since I’ve written here. Although busy writing a new mystery, I have no excuse not to post here more often, especially when I’ve read books worth the comment time. I’ll start with Bernie Gunther, the hero of  a series of books by Philip Kerr.

Bernie begins as a detective working in prewar Nazi Germany. As the series grows, we learn of his time as a homicide detective in the Berlin police and subsequent assignments as a member of the SS.

I wrote about ambiance last time and Bernie’s tales overflow with 40’s film noir. I always imagine him as mustachioed Claude Rains. I hear him speaking English with a German accent. My power as the reader.

The Lady from Zagreb sends Bernie into the war ravaged Balkans in search of a film star’s father. He is besotted with the star but he doesn’t want to get on Goebbels’ bad side either. He finds the father, an apparent psychopath and regrets finding him. After a trip to Switzerland to lie to the star (Sorry, your father is dead) and to persuade her to return to Goebbels’ film project, there are complications.

The Other Side of Silence begins on the French Riviera. Bernie is the Concierge of an upscale hotel, hiding from his past, but it finds him in the person of a former Nazi nemesis who is attempting to blackmail Somerset Maugham and suggested Bernie be the middle man in the transaction. The story exudes more existentialism than Camus’s The Stranger. It involves Cold War spying. What’s more existential than that?

When reading Bernie books I get that feeling of watching a black and white film on a rainy Sunday. If you read any let me know what you think. It just might be my delusion, but they are well written books with the noir mood.

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