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Publisher's Summary

Ex-policeman Bernie Gunther thought he'd seen everything on the streets of 1930s Berlin - until he turned freelance and is sucked further into the grisly excesses of Nazi subculture.

The year is 1936 and Berlin is preparing for the Olympic Games. Some of Bernie's Jewish friends are beginning to realise that they should have left while they could, and Bernie himself has been hired by a wealthy industrialist to investigate two murders that reach high into the Nazi Party.

Hard-hitting, fast-paced, and richly detailed, March Violets is noir writing at its best and blackest.

©1989 Philip Kerr; (P)2008 Isis Publishing Ltd

Critic Reviews

"A brilliantly innovative thriller-writer." (Salman Rushdie)
"Echoes of Raymond Chandler but better on his vivid and well-researched detail than the master." (Evening Standard)
"Taut, brutal, coarse, believable and gripping stuff." (Sunday Telegraph)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall

Missed the mark

An interesting premise, and a book that ought to have appealed. But, why does the main character have an American voice? At first, I thought there would be some explanation -- the hero is some sort of Rick figure who got stranded in Germany in the war, or maybe he had an American parent from whom he learned English -- but no, the story makes clear he spent his life in Germany with German parents. Not sure which is more insulting: the idea that a good person wouldn't have a German accent, or that a presumably mostly American audience can't listen to an accent for the entire length of an audio book. Recommend one read the book, not listen to it. Let your inner voice provide the appropriate voices.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • David
  • High River, Alberta, Canada
  • 10-23-08

one ain't enough - next, please!

Just finishing this first of three of the series of novels by Philip Kerr - can't wait to dig into the next installment.. notwithstanding that these are rather dark but funny (but only in that 1930's bleak prewar Germany kind of funny) novels.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Good story, annoying narration

Awful pronunciation of German words. Annoying accents and silly voices. Almost made me stop listening.

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  • Overall
  • chris
  • 01-19-09

Traditional detective idioms in an unusual setting

Berlin at the time of the 1936 Olympics, the growing threat of Nazism and a cynical detective investigating a double murder. The main protagonist is narrated with a Philip Marlow-esque American accent, with all the other characters having German accents - a conceit I got to enjoy. A great detective story, enhanced with the historically interesting setting. This is the first in a series, that I'm happily working my way through. Highly recommended.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • GC
  • 04-20-08

The German Philip Marlowe

The template, created by Raymond Chandler, of a laconic, world-weary, former policeman turned P.I. works surprisingly well in a pre-war Berlin setting. The narration, by Jeff Harding, is excellent, with said P.I. Bernie Gunther given an American accent (the other characters having German ones) to underline his Marlowesque credentials. Highly recommended.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Hector Chub
  • 07-08-10

Interesting, a bit ponderous. Great period detail

A good and very interesting story, prinicipally for the period detail of Germany in 1936. The American accent of Gunther would have been more acceptable had the other excellent voices not been in strongly accented German. The reader is ok though. Whether the Marlowesque dialogue would have been so effective in German accent is something I can't answer.

Story is a bit ponderous and over-written - constant detailed descriptions of walking across the room, opening a door, openings of letters tended to slow the story down.

Kerr also likes you to know how much research he has done - and it's a lot. Good for it's exploration of pre-war Germany under the Nazis, bad in the exposition of hundreds of locations irrelevant to keeping the story moving.

Quite witty and sharp at times but it definitely ain't classic Chandler.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Samantha
  • 09-22-09

First in a series of excellent books

I stumbled upon this book by chance ( its the first in a very good series . If you like well plotted, gritty and often grisly detective fiction you will love this. I was unsure at first, but was quickly drawn in, although I did have to pay close attention at first, to get used to the german names and places. Bernie Gunther, our hero, is a cynical, hardbitten survivor, but also a man of honour and compassion, with an ey for a pretty girl.The setting provides a very different backdrop to the usual fodder, and is rich in historical detail. Jeff Harding's narration is as ever simply outstanding, and Philip Kerr series of Bernie Gunther novels just get better and better, I am now on #4. Highly recommended.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Mark C.
  • 12-06-15

Bernie never disappoints

What made the experience of listening to March Violets the most enjoyable?

This is the third Bernie Gunter book I have listened to, and it was great to dive back into his world, even though that sounds a bit strange as it's based around Nazi Germany. I really enjoy Bernie Gunter's laconic outlook on life, he often appears that he doesn't care but he always seems to do the right thing, and more often than not gets the girl (and loses her again)

What did you like best about this story?

The atmostphere, the fear, the excitement of Olympics coupled with the foreboding of were the country is going, and all the differing characters.

What does Jeff Harding bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

I love his delivery, his drawl really brings Gunter to life. I'd find a different voice really strange now.

Any additional comments?

Go on, give Bernie a try!!!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Torsten
  • 04-12-12

Entertaining book - grating reading

My first Philip Kerr read/listen. I enjoyed the historical setting, which seems well researched. A book very much in the Philip Marlowe mould, with the cynical private eye as the main character, who has a heart of gold hidden beneath his hat and trenchcoat.

Unfortunately the reading was quite grating. Jeff Harding dramatises the reading. Not my favourite approach, but not my primary point of contention. Jeff Harding is obviously American and gives his own voice to Bernhard Gunther (our private eye), but everyone else for some reason gets a fake german accent in the style of Arnold Schwarzenegger. The effect is unfortunately unintentionally comic and I had to try my best to abstract from their voices.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Nick
  • 10-11-09

Great Book, Unconvincing Narration

A superb and well researched detective thriller set in pre-war Germany. The narrator's American accent is totally implausible, however, and ruins an otherwise excellent story. Take a tip from me. If you like Philip Kerr, do yourself a favour and read the book.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Simon Zohhadi
  • 03-12-17

March Violets

Philip Kerr's first novel featuring the private investigator Bernie Gunther. 'March Violets' is set in 1936 Berlin with the Nazis in charge and Gunther investigating a double murder and corruption. We get a sense of the horror of Nazi Germany which we are all familiar with and Himmler, Goring, Jesse Owens and Dachau are all included. Günther, though, is the main character; his dialogue is full of wise-cracks interspersed with anger and disgust. Despite the subject matter, this novel is entertaining with brilliant dialogue.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • David
  • 10-21-15

A bad imitation of Chandler and absurd trimmings

Any additional comments?

Chandler pastiches are a dime a dozen; most imitators mess it up by overdoing the wisecracks and asides, and Kerr does so spectacularly. The period detail is laid on with a trowel, a special type of trowel unique to Bavaria in the 1930s with a joke liked to the Nazi party and Jews in unnecessary detail. Plot? People get killed for no reason, some of them by the especially unpleasant protagonist, but nobody really cares.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Nana
  • 04-22-14

Really Enjoyed the atmosphere

Really enjoyed this book the details the moral ambiguities of the time are a good lesson. How the ordinary people got carried along. But most of all its a great Nazi noir tale which Philip Harding delivers beautifully as narrator

1 of 1 people found this review helpful