March Violets by Philip Kerr

Screen Shot 2019-05-05 at 17.30.17.png

What a great idea it would be if Chandler or Hammett had set one of their private eyes to work in Nazi Germany. I guess that was the thinking behind this first adventure featuring Bernie Gunther, a German with the wit and wisdom of Philip Marlowe.

Something like that anyway. At least I thought so at first, then I thought the enormity of what the Nazis were doing, even as early as 1936 when the novel is set, deserved more serious consideration and, frankly, horror than a wise-cracking PI hero could muster. And then Kerr delivered. The final third or so of the book is suitably dark and showed a heroic, chivalrous side to our otherwise smart-ass, womanizing hero who was as happy to take SS clients as Jewish ones, at least at first.

And this is just the beginning. Great stuff. I shall read more in the series.

No. 23 of 100 books I intend to read and review in 2019.

* * *

Patrick Sherriff publishes a monthly newsletter highlighting good fiction about Japan and featuring an original painting or sketch. He lives in Abiko, Japan, with his wife and two daughters.