• The Pale Criminal

  • Berlin Noir
  • By: Philip Kerr
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 9 hrs and 21 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (942 ratings)

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The Pale Criminal  By  cover art

The Pale Criminal

By: Philip Kerr
Narrated by: John Lee
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Publisher's summary

Hailed by Salman Rushdie as a "brilliantly innovative thriller-writer", Philip Kerr is the creator of taut, gripping, noir-tinged mysteries that are nothing short of spellbinding.

In this second book of the Berlin Noir trilogy, The Pale Criminal brings back Bernie Gunther, an ex-policeman who thought he'd seen everything on the streets of 1930s Berlin - until he turned freelance, and each case he tackled sucked him further into the grisly excesses of Nazi subculture.

Hard-hitting, fast-paced, and richly detailed, The Pale Criminal is noir writing at its blackest and best.

©2008 Philip Kerr (P)2008 Books on Tape

Critic reviews

"A superb tour of Berlin on the edge of an abyss and a cynical, dashing leading man." ( St. Louis Dispatch)
"Echoes of Raymond Chandler but better on his vivid and well-researched detail than the master." ( Evening Standard)

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What listeners say about The Pale Criminal

Average customer ratings
Overall
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Another classic by Kerr

I am a real crime novel affaciando - and I can honestly say that Kerr is up there with Chandler and Hammett. OK, maybe not on the same level, but he's still writing - and headed in the right direction.
This book evokes a thrilling story of good and evil with lots of great characters and plot twists. Enjoy.

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11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Esxcellent Historical Fiction; Gripping ...

I've only done reviews for a handful of the hundreds I've listened to from Audible and other sources. The vast majority of selections one finds are ok, reasonably entertaining, decent narration, ... they pass the time. I tend to review when I find the book either a real turkey or, on the other hand, quite a find. This one is the latter category ... it's a really good piece of historical fiction with outstanding narration. I'm a fan of WW II historical dramas and films and this one kept kept reminding me of the incredible 2001 film "Conspiracy", about the Wannsee Conference where the Final Solution was hammered out, especially in its stark portrayal of Reinhard Heydrich who was also a central figure in "Conspiracy". But "The Pale Criminal" is also an excellent mystery in the noir manner about a serial killer of young girls in 1930s Nazi Germany. And it does an interesting psychological thing with its twists on psychotherapy, Jung, and others. I really, really liked this book, and am going to go looking for more by Phillip Kerr.

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29 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

What Trouble Will Bernie Get Into Next?

While I really enjoyed the first book in the series, March Violets earlier this month, I can't say I felt quite the same about this one. We are now in the Berlin of 1938 and Bernie Gunther is asked to rejoin the police force to work on a serial murder case. Several young girls have gone missing and been found defiled in the most gruesome manner: raped, tied by their feet and drained of their blood exactly like slaughtered pigs. All the girls were around 15, blonde and blue-eyed; the perfect Arian stereotype. Another private case has him uncovering a man blackmailing a wealthy widow, a publisher whose son is a homosexual who (inadvisedly in this age of Nazi power) kept up a correspondence with his lover, some of those letters now being in the hands of the blackmailer. Two very different cases, and no apparent link to the question of the oppression of the Jews in this year which is marked by Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, an organized attack against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and Austria which took place on the 9th and 10th November 1938. But of course we eventually learn that no crime in this time and place could occur without the aim of further oppressing the Jews.

While I liked the way the case started resolving itself two-thirds of the way in, I've developed a serious dislike for forms of entertainment which centre on serial rapes and murders of women, and the details in this case were truly horrendous. Perhaps because of this, I focused more on little things that bothered me with the first book; endless questionable similes and a main hero who is a typical macho male, which is accurate enough for the period portrayed and amused me the first time around, but here set off against the background of these female victims was distasteful to me. Is that reverse sexism on my part? All the same, solid writing overall (except those similes—why?) and a crime story which places the reader firmly in the heart of Nazi Germany just before WWII. I'll be listening to the third book to see what trouble Bernie gets into next.

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4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

great book

I love this book. Really take you back to 1930 Germany. I'm new to this genre but I'm going to read every book in the series

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Very good

Great story and pace. Narration was very good but sometimes I lost who was talking. That is still better than a bad voice for a character.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

better than some and worse than others

Where does The Pale Criminal rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

As above.rates better than average but the story varies from semi-believable to fairly absurd.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Pale Criminal?

The author is good at evoking the era and was clearly influenced by The Thin Man, in a good way.

Did John Lee do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

Pretty good but one character is differentiated by a corny New York accent that was grating to the ears.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

I wouldn't...a ridiculous question.

Any additional comments?

As I mentioned is reviewing the first of the trilogy, the tough guy dialogue becomes VERY tiresome, almost a caricature of Dragnet-style terse catchy stuff that is corny beyond belief. Also, the sex scenes....hit fast forward for those, you're not missing anything....a major detraction from these books, and I'm not a prude.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Another Bernie Gunther adventure...

I must say that I am really glad that I took a chance on this series. You get a close look at the Nazi era Germany and a mystery as well when you listen to this book. I highly recommend this series...

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An outstanding listen!

If you could sum up The Pale Criminal in three words, what would they be?

Complex, interwoven and compelling story.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No

Any additional comments?