From New York Times best-selling author Philip Kerr, the much anticipated return of Bernie Gunther in a series hailed by The Daily Beast as "the best crime novels around today".
Once I'd been a good detective in Kripo, but that was a while ago, before the criminals wore smart gray uniforms and nearly everyone locked up was innocent. Being a Berlin cop in 1942 was a little like putting down mousetraps in a cage full of tigers.
The war is over. Bernie Gunther, our sardonic former Berlin homicide detective and unwilling SS officer, is now living on the French Riviera. It is 1956, and Bernie is the go-to guy at the Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat, the man you turn to for touring tips or if you need a fourth for bridge. As it happens, a local writer needs just that - someone to fill the fourth seat in a regular game that is the usual evening diversion at the Villa Mauresque. Not just any writer. Perhaps the richest and most famous living writer in the world: W. Somerset Maugham. And it turns out it is not just a bridge partner that he needs; it's some professional advice. Maugham is being blackmailed - perhaps because of his unorthodox lifestyle. Or perhaps because of something in his past, because once upon a time, Maugham worked for the British secret service, and the people now blackmailing him are spies.
As Gunther fans know, all roads lead back to the viper's nest that was Hitler's Third Reich and to the killing fields that spread like a disease across Europe. Even in 1956, peace has not come to the continent: Now the Soviets have the H-bomb, and spies from every major power feel free to make all of Europe their personal playground.
©2016 Philip Kerr (P)2016 Penguin Audio
"Narrator John Lee and author Philip Kerr's German cop, Bernie Gunther, have been together for a while now, but familiarity hasn't dimmed their affinity for each other.... Lee's telling interpretations of oily ex-Nazis, local rich folk, the elderly Maugham and his un-closeted gay set, and Gunther's love interests help color Kerr's undecorated writing and add to the book's undisputed pleasures." (AudioFile)
Not having listened to any of Philip Kerr's writing other than all of Bernie Gunther, I hesitate to do so. To me, Kerr is Bernie Gunther. In writers terms he has to be a "method actor". This fictitious character that is insinuated into the most significant history of the 20th century is sheer genius. For all practical purposes, Bernie should not have lived to tell most of this story. Kerr brilliantly lets him live so that the story can continue. Most fictitious police/private detective protagonists would never have made it to 60 yrs of age. Having read all of La Carré's Smiley series, Bernie helps me to understand more about the world of intelligence that was more difficult for me to visualize through George Smiley, not to take anything away from La Carré on any level!
My only complaint about Bernie is his voice change when not read by John Lee. There are reasons, I'm sure, in the literary world, why this happens, but it requires a major change in gears and imagination when it does.
So my hesitancy to read more Kerr is that he and Bernie are heroes to me and Bernie Gunther is how I want to remember them both.
Having read all of the Bernie Gunther novels, starting The Other Side of Silence was like listening to an old friend relate a story from their past. An old friend who was a Berlin police detective, a private investigator and a member of the Nazi SD with personal relationships among senior members of the Nazi regime. A casual observer can follow along easily enough but by knowing Bernie’s history, you understand the nuances. You understand that with Bernie, the past is never past; the present is never quite what it seems and the future is never clear. Philip Kerr handles, quite adroitly, how the orbits of Gunther and “the richest and most famous living writer in the world: W. Somerset Maugham” intersect. That relationship is at the heart of the novel as Maugham too has a past. Kerr has once again delivered a highly entertaining, thoroughly absorbing, mystery with a kick.
John Lee, as the narrator for this novel, is the quintessential Bernie Gunther. He maintained his usual excellence.
Berni Gunther is the man. I am hooked since I read the 1st book. All through recent history, he is a true hero with flaws. What a great book.
Kerr does it again with a fast paced tour for Gunther of the French Riviera. Kerr's research and attention to details continues to be amazing. John Lee again creates a family of characters that puts life to Kerr's words . There is no better narrator working today.
I'm a fan of the series to me this is the best one yet very well-crafted story good thriller get to stories and one one goes back to World War II and then one in the 50s with Soviet and British spies. I would not recommend this is the first reading the series though I think I'm a reader should start with some of the earlier books
I have read and loved most of the books in this series, but found this one disappointing. Too much pointless dialogue and fillers. Hopefully the next one will be better. Sigh....
As a devoted Bernie Gunther fan, I read all new books in the series, but this latest one is not one of Kerr’s best. The plot is far-fetched, confusing, too long, and not exciting until the very end. While Kerr usually excels in meticulous historical research, this book did not add much to my general knowledge of the infamous British spies or Somerset Maugham. For fans like myself, reading The Other Side of Silence was a harmless exercise in completeness; for new readers, the original three books in the Berlin Noir series are still the best, and for recent additions, I like Prague Fatale the most.
A man's got to do what a man's got to do..
I am a big fan of Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther books, but I have to agree with the lukewarm reviews of the latest stories, including this one. It's 1956 and Gunther is working as a hotel concierge on the French Riviera under an assumed name. Bernie is confronted to the blackmail of a very famous writer and, as investigates, other skeletons from WW2 come out of the closet.
The writing is smooth, but the plot at time deceiving and convoluted. I read it to the end and am still looking forward to the next Bernie’s book but this one wasn't one of the best.
I am mixed on John Lee’s performance : a bit too crafted and turns into comedy what should be a noir with drama and real suspense…
The world's highest death toll maritime disaster you never heard of, the name of MI5's greatest mole never acknowledged by the UK and many tidbits about Somerset Maugham's life woven into a nicely bundled counterintelligence play with Bernie drawn out from his ignominious cover as the action flashpoint - as he always is when the setting is post-WWII.
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