©2008 Philip Kerr; (P)2008 Books on Tape
"The brutality and corruption of Nazi Germany serve as the backdrop for this impressive debut mystery novel. Scottish-born Kerr re-creates the period accurately and with verve; the novel reeks of the sordid decade that saw Hitler's rise to power." (Publishers Weekly)
"Echoes of Raymond Chandler, but better on his vivid and well-researched detail than the master." (Evening Standard, London)
This is intended to be a review of the entire Bernie Gunther series and not just the first book, March Violets. As an audible listener, I love to find a great detective series and assume others would be the same. The Bernie Gunther series is one I strongly recommend. The only detective series I have listened to which is better is the Robert Galbraith (aka, J.K. Rolwings) detective Kormoran Strike series.In comparison to the first rank of detective series I have read, the Detective Bernie Gunther series rates as good as anything by John Sandford (Lucas Davenport & Virgil Flowers) and nearly as good as some of the early Michael Connolley mysteries (Detective Harry Bosch). I have also listened to the Craig Johnson-Sherriff Walt Longmire series and the Michael McGarrity-Sherriff Kevin Kearny Series, having enjoyed them greatly and listened to a number of books from each series more than once.. Both of those series are quite good, though I personally think the Gunther series is better.In my opinion, a second rank of series would be the Peter Robinson-Inspector Banks mysteries and the Charles Todd-Inspector Rutledge series. The Gunther books are much better, less contrived than the Banks and Rutledge books which hinge on similar plot devices and are too predictable.If anyone knows of another great detective series, I would be most obliged to hear of it. I hope this opens up some new series for other listeners.
After recently finishing The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Bonhoeffer, and The Garden of Evil, it seemed to me that Kerr gave a pretty accurate account of what it would have been like in Nazi Germany during the 1930s and 1940s for a person (Detective Bernie Gunther) who was not sympathetic to the new national German leadership.
Mr. Lee is a wonderful reader, able to make distinctions in voices amongst the different characters. Although I am not fluent in German, he did not seem to mess up German pronunciation.
The Bernie Gunther series is a top series, difficult to find. The stories don't become repetitive in plot devices. The character grows as the nation gradually goes down in flames over the course of the series.
John Lee superbly narrates a dark tense historically inspired detective fiction set in Nazi Germany.
I have never read/listened to a story about a private investigator in pre WWII Germany. Sort of Sam Spade meets Hitler. The story is well put together and I thought the narration done well. Not all characters are resolved in the book so I will have to see if it comes up in the next installment.
Philip Kerr's use of language is unique, creative and beautiful. I have never read a detective novel where the author could turn a phrase as sharply.
At times, yes.
The characters were supposed to be German, but the reader was British. While I can see the value in using a non-American accent, it was distracting to hear British accents speaking as Nazi's and using Germanic names and phrases.
Every so often Kerr would use a phrase that would have me laughing out loud - even though it really isn't a comedy.
I would never think someone could write a detective novel where 1930's Germany was a backdrop - where the Nazi's were NOT the main characters. Kerr does so masterfully. And in doing so, we get a better feel for the life of the citizens of Germany during the Nazi rise to power.
Philip Kerr brings the noir genre -- think Sam Spade, Red Harvest, and the Continental Op -- to Berlin in the mid-thirties. Under the boot of Nazism a cynical private eye hunts for missing persons -- usually missing owing to the activities of the Gestapo or the SS. The writing is a bit too derivative of Chandler, with the tough-guy similes, but the portrayal of how ordinary people dealt with the terrible time they lived in is very interesting. It's kind of the bad guys' (i.e., German) side of the world Alan Furst writes so brilliantly about: the coming of WWII, but in this case with people who are not actually involved in the war's coming.The story is a fairly generic tough detective caper, but the way it's told is quite good. John Lee does a nice job of the world-weary detective, and all-in-all I liked it.
Move over Sherlock here comes Bernie! A real gritty true to the genre of PI Noir. Tough and smart a real man in a world going mad and dealing with the decay of a society and the terrible slide into Nazi Germany as the back drop.
Mind wandered more than usual. I like Deighton and Ambler..Silva and LeCarre. This was simple character dev but hard to follow. Too many characters and was not sure who was who. Maybe the book was too short at 9hrs. Found it hard to care about and like John Lee reading Follett better. Maybe it just takes some getting used to as by the end, I thought I might try the second book. Love the era/genre.
Writer & daddy.
Yes, I think this series would appeal to readers of all shapes and sizes.
The historical elements flow so well. Great mystery. Great characterizations.
Yes, more in this particular series. I really love his voice, especially for this Kerr series.
And if you dig history, this one's steeped in deftly tossed in asides. I was just in Berlin and it was great to follow Bernie with a map through neighborhoods I had familiarity with now. Berlin is such a tinderbox of historical allusion and Kerr does a terrific job of mining those diamonds, "bells", for this series. And anything that John Lee reads goes from good to engrossing with those first gravely syllables.
Plot had many surprising twists. Having traveled personally to many of the areas mentioned, you can tell the writer does his homework.
Mr. Lee is a very good reader, except he sometimes mispronounces German words for locations, people's names, etc. As long as you are setting your books in German locales, you should use German - and not Americanized - pronunciations.
Philip Kerr is a darned good mystery writer. John Lee is a very good reader (just needs to work on his pronunciations of German words)!
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