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Field Gray Audiobook

Field Gray: A Bernie Gunther Novel

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Audible Editor Reviews

In his international pursuit of Erich Mielke (the real-life head of the Stasi), Bernard Gunther enters the employment of Reinhard Heydrich (the infamous Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia, whose own assassination in Prague inspired a Hollywood movie directed by Fritz Land from a script by Brecht). Ostensibly a German mercenary, Gunther is in fact second cousin to the wise-cracking cynics of Raymond Chandler's world: even his name is shortened to ‘Bernie’ in recognition of his true literary nationality. His pursuit soon takes on secondary importance as the narrative morphs into a string of entertaining set-pieces framed by an increasingly fractured narrative that jumps from '41 to '54, Cold War to WWII, Berlin to Cuba to New York. This sense of dislocation ads to the ambiguity that surrounds Gunther: As he tells and retells his story to various interrogators from the CIA and the Stasi, the listener has to make up his or her own mind about the reliability of his point of view and the extent of his culpability.

It’s a brave choice by Philip Kerr to ask us to engage with a character that occupies moral ground as grey as the army uniform described in the title. He's not helped by the often uneasy mixture of the wise-cracking tone demanded by the conventions of hardboiled noir and the very real history that, at times, overwhelms the story. Cynical quips and the Holocaust don’t mix all that well. Field Gray is packed with background information, and the dialogue is at its weakest when characters speak a little too extensively about the historical background, as if Kerr is trying to cram in every last scrap of his research.

However, these flaws are redeemed in this recording by the perfect marriage between voice and character as presented by Paul Hecht. His voice (reminiscent of Philip Baker Hall) is rich in regret and his crumpled world-weariness matches Bernard Gunther's embattled defensiveness. Here is a character who constantly has to justify his compromised choices to interrogators that have been untouched by the hard choices made necessary by war, and Hecht’s delivery is just right for a defendant who has seen things that his prosecutors can hardly dream of. Even within the context of his unique voice, Hecht manages to color it with light and shade so that the supporting characters are more than just background voices. This is a voice you’ll want to listen to. — Dafydd Phillips

Publisher's Summary

Philip Kerr crafts a thrilling chapter from his critically acclaimed Bernie Gunther series. In Field Gray, Bernie finds himself imprisoned in 1954—and told he can either work for French intelligence or he can hang. Accepting his new job, Bernie begins interviewing POWs returning from Germany. And things get interesting when he meets a French war criminal and member of the French SS who has been posing as a German Wehrmacht officer.

Listen to more Bernie Gunther titles.

©2011 Philip Kerr (P)2011 Recorded Books, LLC

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (268 )
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Performance
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  •  
    John Fort Myers, FL, United States 11-27-11
    John Fort Myers, FL, United States 11-27-11 Member Since 2015

    Retired lawyer/executive but active curmudgeon keeping busy by volunteering with Hope Hospice in the fall and winter and National Park Service in Spring and Summer. Training a new RV co-pilot after my long-time co-pilot passed away suddenly.

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    "As unlikely as hero as one might imagine"

    I still find it hard to believe that I would get hooked on a former SS officer as protagonist . I readily admit that , long ago, I was hooked on Bernie Gunther stories. Each book gets better and better. This one is terrific! Paul Hecht does an outstanding job with this book. It's seems like a very tough part to play but Mr Hecht makes the story come alive.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chiangmai Mike 02-22-16 Member Since 2014
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    "A new favorite author and narrator."

    I found Philip Kerr's novels a few months ago and have gone through five of them. This one I'm listening to for the second time, picking up twists I missed before and enjoying it as much as I did on the first listen. I think Paul Hecht captures the noir flavor perfectly and will look for other books he's narrated. I've read hundreds of mysteries over the years and Philip Kerr's novels rank with the very best.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gayle 12-23-15
    Gayle 12-23-15 Member Since 2016
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    "Patience and concentration required. Brilliant!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I love complicated books and this strange genre of the WWII noir detective novel is right up my alley. I listened to this book twice over a few months and still have trouble placing and remembering all the people and events in Bernie's tale. The book moved forward, back and sideways as Bernie recalled and made up stories to the various characters and intelligence agencies. I had trouble following what was true and not until the last 15 minutes. An actual book might have made it easier. The reader is very good and can sound like David McCullough at times. I like John Lee too and can understand why the transition may be difficult for some reviewers but, although they have different styles, both are excellent.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Allan Futrell Louisville, KY USA 07-06-11
    Allan Futrell Louisville, KY USA 07-06-11 Member Since 2015
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    "A Bit Awry but Still Worth a Listen"

    Kerr is probably one of those writers that you either really like or really don't like. His books on Audible benefit from good narrators (Paul Hecht is as delightful as John Lee once you get used to him) as well as interesting historical plots. I have no idea how accurate his Nazi world is, but it makes for enjoyable listening. Gunther is hard not to like as a hero because he so often turns out to be incredibly vulnerable. In this book Gunther gets a little out of his element, or maybe it is Kerr and his experimental style that goes a bit awry. Nevertheless, Kerr still delivers and Bernie does not disappoint.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vivian 04-25-11
    Vivian 04-25-11
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    "?"

    I have read every Kerr book ,so I must like them. I have gone to US holocaust Memorial Museum website. I guess one is saying and the other is proving : there is no god, there is no justice, and nothing is solved by war.
    I don't know how to rate this book. I don't know if I like or not. I guess the one liner by the old peasant to Pancho Villa says it all "doesn't matter who is in charge, they all still you chickens." However , this is much to simple for this book that starts slow and familiar and grows on you.

    3 of 7 people found this review helpful
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    Sandy Great Falls, MT, United States 08-21-11
    Sandy Great Falls, MT, United States 08-21-11 Member Since 2013

    My name is Ted and my wife is Sandy. I am a school teacher in Montana. I teach math and History. I live on 40 acres south of Great Falls.

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    "Easy listen"

    The book jumps around and the descrption of the places are narrow. I just could not get into the book.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
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    Terry Camas Valley, OR, USA 09-13-12
    Terry Camas Valley, OR, USA 09-13-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Disgusting main character - terrible language"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Too much to change. I could find nothing to admire in the main character or the others. After listening for a couple hours I gave up. The language is explicit and disgusting. I would be embarrassed to let this play out loud in the presence of other people.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Philip Kerr again?

    Never.


    What about Paul Hecht’s performance did you like?

    Was fine.


    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frederic long beach, CA, United States 09-18-12
    Frederic long beach, CA, United States 09-18-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Historical fiction at it's best"
    Any additional comments?

    Anyone who is interested in the history of midcentury Europe cannot fail to learn a lot and enjoy by following the career of Berlin policeman Bernie Gunther from the 1920s through 1950sthrough a series of novels by Philip Kerr.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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