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.
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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.