The best-selling author of 20 novels, Philip Kerr has won a devoted following - and there are none more ardent than those who devour his Bernie Gunther series. In 1934, Bernie found himself in Berlin, where he was caught up in intrigue surrounding Hitler, America, and the upcoming Olympiad. Two decades later, Bernie surfaces in Havana. But an old associate has appeared there as well - and might spell trouble of a decidedly deadly nature.
©2010 Philip Kerr (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC
This book is after "A Quiet Flame" in the Bernie Gunther series, which is not on audible. I tired of waiting for audible add that book, so I found a print ed. and read it before listening to this one.
It's very disappointing listening to a Bernie Gunther story with the coarse, monotone voice of Paul Hecht instead of the smooth and melodious John Lee. There's a very striking difference and while Hecht is competent with the various pronunciations, he doesn't give it that same kind of intonation or German accent that Lee provides with flare.
Eventually, the story (begun in the time preceding the Berlin Olympics) grows into a compelling one and the narrator is not as much of an issue. The first part of the book takes place in this pre-Olympics era of Berlin and is centered on interconnected events surrounding the preparations for these Olympics.
As those events near resolution though, the story jumps ahead to 1950's Cuba. Here Gunther is living under an assumed identity gained at the end of "The One from the Other", and follows events in Argentina that took place in "A Quiet Flame". Some of this is referred to in passing as the story moves along, but it isn't imperative that you have read "A Quiet Flame" to follow this story. (I do think "A Quiet Flame" is well worth a read however, and is in fact one of the more poignant additions to the series).
In Cuba, Bernie is reunited with some characters he met in 1930's Berlin, and a new case develops. The mystery in this part jumps around and isn't as compelling as the earlier one. I found it rather transparent about what really happens, and was unsurprised by any revelations at the end.
Still it's a solid addition the Gunther Series, and as it looks like future books are narrated by Paul Hecht as well, if you want to listen the rest of the series I would try getting used to the narrator now. He's not great, but after you've adjusted to him, he doesn't really distract from the story, it just won't have that same flare.
Kerr is a wonder - the Bernie Gunther books are in an entirely different league; literate, stylish, historically intriguing. Skip M. Connelly and J.L. Burke - this is the best you will find. I only wish Audible would get around to adding in the "The Quiet Flame" (not to mention all of Jim Thompson's work).
Despite some flashes of his wonderful sense of irony, Kerr's slant on the topic of his Bernie Gunther series may be getting a bit long in the tooth. On the other hand, I wonder what his rich imagination will come up with for a new series. Paul Hecht offers his normal excellence as orator.
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I am a big fan of Phillip Kerr. The Bernie Gunther novels are always a pleasure, so I was very excited to download this latest entry in the series. I failed to notice the change in narrator. I was extremely disappointed by his delivery.
Kerr's ability to keep wending Bernie's past and present through the upheavals of history and the sordid trials of a man's life are what make this series the grand and sprawling accomplishment it's become. And the narration is spot on. Bernie lives in your head and the whole sky lights up.
The story was too convoluted - I never really understood the motivation of any of the characters
There seemed no point to any of the events - they didn't provide understanding, motivation, depth of character.
His voice was too monotone - I had trouble telling who was speaking
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