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Publisher's Summary

Berlin, March, 1943. A month has passed since the stunning defeat at Stalingrad. Though Hitler insists Germany is winning the war, commanders on the ground know better. Morale is low, discipline at risk. Now word has reached Berlin of a Red massacre of Polish officers in the Katyn Forest near Smolensk. If true, the message it would send to the troops is clear: Fight on or risk certain death. For once, both the Wehrmacht and Propaganda Minister Goebbels want the same thing: Irrefutable evidence of this Russian atrocity. To the Wehrmacht, such proof will soften the reality of its own war crimes in the eyes of the victors. For Goebbels, such proof could turn the tide of war by destroying the Alliance, cutting Russia off from its western supply lines.

Both parties agree that the ensuing investigation must be overseen by a professional trained in sifting evidence and interrogating witnesses. Anything that smells of incompetence or tampering will defeat their purposes. And so Bernie Gunther is dispatched to Smolensk, where truth is as much a victim of war as those poor dead Polish officers.

Smolensk, March, 1943. Army Group Center is an enclave of Prussian aristocrats who have owned the Wehrmacht almost as long as they’ve owned their baronial estates, an officer class whose families have been intermarrying for generations. The wisecracking, rough-edged Gunther is not a good fit. He is, after all, a Berlin bull. But he has a far bigger concern than sharp elbows and supercilious stares, for somewhere in this mix is a cunning and savage killer who has left a trail of bloody victims.

This is no psycho case. This is a man with motive enough to kill and skills enough to leave no trace of himself. Bad luck that in this war zone, such skills are two-a-penny. Somehow Bernie must put a face to this killer before he puts an end to Bernie.

©2013 Philip Kerr (P)2013 Recorded Books

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Charles
  • Vineland, NJ, United States
  • 05-24-13

Disappointing narration

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Fine story -- as always -- by Philip Kerr. But the narration was weak. Little definition in the sound of various characters, leaving it often confusing about who was speaking in the story.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Couldn't tell one character from another. All the voices sounded the same.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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For the love of god change the narrator!

Would you listen to A Man Without Breath again? Why?

No, sorry to say.

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

Yes

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Paul Hecht?

Jeff Harding or John Lee would be the ideal candidates.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

As in previous books Philip Kerr takes you for a ride and thorugh the book there were many small and large moments evolving around Bernie Gunther.

Any additional comments?

No

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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The spinning of tales is Kerr's forte.

Bernie goes down the rabbit hole again. This one leads you by the nose you know not where, but certainly far beyond the unwholesome wood with its heinous secret.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Great Disappointment

Any additional comments?

I am a great fan of the Gunther series, and have listened to the Berlin Noir trilogy narrated by John Lee many times. Hecht's reading is awful. Bernie's wit and sarcasm are lost in Hecht's gravelly, weary monotone. Furthermore, I found the storyline simply not engaging and very slow-moving. I never did finish it - I simply could not bear to listen to Hecht for the last 3.5 hours...at that point I didn't care who the killer was, I just wanted to move on.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Daniel
  • SANTA ANA, CA, United States
  • 09-05-14

Bernie Is Getting Tired

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Own every Phillip Kerr book, and prize them. Unfortunately, like many other long running series, it is becoming difficult to develop unique story lines. The bulk of the attractive points of the series are still there, just getting too familiar.

Would you ever listen to anything by Philip Kerr again?

Absolutely

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Katherine
  • Georgetown, Ontario, Canada
  • 02-26-14

Good writing, but too violent for me

I really enjoyed the first part and don't mind the lead character's black humour. Germany and Russia in 1943 weren't the cheeriest places and his outlook lightens things up in a way that's necessary. I don't even mind the focus on death and despair. But for me personally, I can't handle details of rape and torture and after I'd skipped some sections to miss them and I could tell another one was about to begin, I called it quits. I also realized I didn't mind if I never knew how it turned out. After all, we know the ending of WW2, don't we?! I know we're all unique in what we can tolerate in terms of violence, so it's your call if this book's for you or not. There were a lot of characters with difficult names and that could be a bit confusing at times and I made a few notes to keep them straight. I do enjoy a good WW2 story and I took the risk here from an author I'd read before.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Joyce
  • Fort Mill, SC, United States
  • 11-29-13

Greatest Series Ever.

Where does A Man Without Breath rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

The series is the best.

What about Paul Hecht’s performance did you like?

I liked the first performer better, but once you get used to him, it is OK. I love Bernie Gunther, what a hero.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Edgar
  • Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • 12-05-17

Bernie!

This is one of the best of the Bernie Gunther series. The story is long, complex and engaging. The narration is up to the job.

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Not up to the usual standards..

This was certainly not up to the usual standards.. the book sat in isolation from the previous Gunther books.. never connecting with where Bernie left off with the Eric Milke or the Armis in the 1950's

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Forgot to edit?

Paul Hecht is awesome. However it was disappointing that his great performance was diminished because there were many areas where edits were missed. The same lines were read twice (retakes I assume),etc.

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  • Derrick
  • 05-01-13

Bernie's out of breath

I loved the early Bernie Gunther audiobooks. They bristled with noir-ish grittiness, atmosphere and style; essentially Sam Spade against a '30s Berlin background, with more wit, scarier gangsters and a lot more sex and violence. They were read wonderfully too by Jeff Harding; he WAS Bernie and you rooted for him.

Sadly, the series has gone on too long. This story is set in 1943 and uses the backdrop of the Katyn investigations by the Germans. Bernie's anti-Nazi sentiments now sound a little tedious and hackneyed, whilst some of the important plot twists are just silly. There are moments where the old vigour shows through, but not many. It feels like a book written to wring just a bit more out of a lucrative franchise.

Also, Paul Hecht does not capture the sardonic, wise-cracking Gunther in anything like the way Jeff Harding did.

Not a bad thriller, but a shallow imitation of the earlier works.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Richard
  • 04-23-13

Good story ruined by poor narration

I had not thought it possible to find a worse narrator than Christian Rodska but Paul Hecht beats him by a country mile.



I have read all of Philip Kerr's books and this is the first one I have listened to. The narration is very bland and dull and to my ears wholly inappropriate. A real pity as the story is good. A real disservice to the author.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • David Richardson
  • 05-13-17

Good but irritating!

Great story in many ways but too much Nazi name-dropping. The 'hero' is just implausibly smart to too many senior officers for my liking. But some good material here too...

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  • Brian
  • 12-08-13

...but Philip Kerr doesn't suck!

Where does A Man Without Breath rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Fans of the Bernie Gunther series won't be disappointed with this latest offering. All the usual plot lines are here, along with the big twist at the end!

Which character – as performed by Paul Hecht – was your favourite?

Goebbels- perfect characterisation of a charming but ruthless man.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The historical research that went into the book makes it an interesting insight into several of World War Twos' 'hidden histories' , including the plots by the Prussian aristocracy to assassinate Hitler, and Katyn Woods massacre.

Any additional comments?

A good read. Fans of Bernie Gunter won't be disappointed.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-06-13

Terrible narration

What disappointed you about A Man Without Breath?

These books are usually great - especially when read by Jeff Harding. The narration on this is awful; rendering a good story tedious and dull. I'd like my credit back please

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

Narration!

Would you be willing to try another one of Paul Hecht’s performances?

No!!!

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from A Man Without Breath?

Didn't get beyond first five minutes

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  • Bibliophile
  • 08-11-13

Excellent series

This is the first Bernie Gunther novel I've read, but looks like a very promising series. Starts in Berlin in 1943 with the commencement of RAF bombing raids on Berlin. Moves on to Smolensk, where Bernie is sent to investigate a possible war crime in Katyn Wood. Lots of nice twists and turns, plots and counter-plots. Although this is his most recent Bernie Gunther novel it is probably about fourth in time sequence
There is also a change of narrators, so it will be interesting to hear any differences.

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  • G.Russell
  • 07-08-13

A breath of fresh air.

I've never been disappointed with Phillip Kerr's work and his latest is as fresh as ever. The plot is somewhat akin to Enigma, by Robert Harris, in that we deal with the same historical incident, but what I love about this story is that it puts you into the imposable position of being in the German army, but not really of the army. A nice juster position. A very good listen indeed.

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  • Julian
  • 05-08-13

Great book, terrible reader

I am a long time fan of Philip Kerr and I have read every Bernie Gunther book with pleasure. This is another cracker, set in Poland, as the Katyn Wood massacre is uncovered, with multiple twists and turns. But, oh dear, the reader is terrible. He makes no attempt at different voices for different characters, so its quite monotonous and his timing is weird , which makes the experience of listening disjointed and uncomfortable. And if that wasn't enough, there are the audio versions of typos...mis-takes? ...where the reader (or the producer) is not happy with a sentence so he does it again, but forgets to erase the first version. Strictly amateur hour. I recently reviewed" Back to Blood" by Tom Wolfe, where the excellent reader boosted my overall score from 4 to 5 stars. Here the reader reduced it from 5 to 3 stars.