~Post by Joe T.
Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther novels are a marvel to behold. Marrying the cynical world-weariness of a Dashiell Hammett to the cynical moral relativism of a John Le Carre, each book attempts to be the perfect summation of noir fiction. Oh yeah, and they’re a blast and a real treat to read.
One of the many joys of the series is how it does not unfold in chronological order. Each book is capable of filling in gaps in the life of Bernie Gunther, one time private investigator, oft times cop, and unintentional SS member in Nazi Germany. 2011’s Field Gray was the apotheosis of this approach, featuring narratives nestled within narratives spanning the time from 1931 to 1954. It was, perhaps, the high water mark of the series.
Prague Fatale takes a step back and delivers a streamlined tale that harkens back to the first collection of Gunther tales, Berlin Noir. Set in 1942, it finds Bernie home from the Soviet front, back in a cop’s uniform, and, unfortunately for him, still an SS member under the patronage of Heydrich, the mastermind of the Jewish Holocaust.
Instructed to find the death of one of Heydrich’s aides-de camp, Gunther finds himself in the middle of a locked door murder mystery straight out of an Agatha Christie novel. Interviewing the Nazi brass, Bernie gets the opportunity to really let it rip, allowing himself some minor moral victories as he slowly drowns himself in larger moral losses.
Philip Kerr’s novels have been one of my favorite discoveries over the last couple of years, each book exploring facets of the German psyche amidst the chaos and banality of evil that is Nazi Germany. They are all great books and Prague Fatale is no exception.
Join MysteryPeople as we welcome Philip Kerr to BookPeople on Saturday, April 21, 7p to speak about & sign Prague Fatale.