- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Quercus (14 Mar. 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1780876246
- ISBN-13: 978-1780876245
- Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 4.3 x 23.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (212 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 173,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
A Man Without Breath (Bernie Gunther) Hardcover – 14 Mar 2013
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"The good detective trying to do his best within a corrupt regime... few writers have tackled the theme with the rigour of Philip Kerr"--Independent
"The real pleasure in these books is in Kerr's total mastery of the world he's created"--Sport
About the Author
Philip Kerr is the author of ten internationally bestselling Bernie Gunther novels. If the Dead Rise Not won the CWA Ellis Peters Award for Best Historical Novel. His other books include several stand-alone thrillers and acclaimed series for children. He lives in south-west London.
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Top Customer Reviews
It is 1943 and the Battle of Stalingrad is over, leaving Germany shocked at the defeat. Bernie Gunther has joined the Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau, thanks to his old boss Arther Nebe. Back in Berlin, Gunther is working with Judge Johannes Goldsche, an old type Prussian judge, with one eye on the end of the war and restoring Germany's reputation with an investigation into a possible mass grave of Polish officers, killed by the Soviets in Smolensk. With that in mind, Gunther is sent to investigate that the grave is indeed that of Polish officers and not a mass grave of Jews, killed by the SS. The possibility that Germans killed the officers is disregarded by those in charge - "the German army does not murder prisoners of war" Gunther is told by an outraged aristocrat.
What makes this book interesting is the irony that Bernie Gunther is investigating a possible war crime, alongside a region where crimes are being perpetrated on a daily basis by the SS and where mass murder has become commonplace. Sent to investigate, Gunther finds a German unit responsible for communications, hoping to sit out the war in comfort and not at all amused at his uncovering old wounds.Read more ›
As usual, there is a slight tendency by Kerr to over-plot and over-layer the story, so that by the end several plot strands and mysteries need explaning and tidying up. The final couple of chapters feel quite strange - over-descriptive and padded in one respect, and a bit rushed and unresolved in another, so the book overall reaches a not entirely plausible and satisfying conclusion. Perhaps it was the title of the book, but Kerr almost overdoes the use of the word 'breath' in places, almost trying to spell out the link between the book title and the action, which felt forced and unneccessary.
But, these are small gripes. The Gunther series continues to set the standard for drawing on this dark, terrible but compelling period of modern history, and what always impresses is that Kerr never lets hindsight interfere with the flow of his books, so that the motivations of the characters feels genuine for the times. It's probably hard work to keep on producing work at this level, especially as the timeline of the three orignal novels (March Violets, The Pale Criminal and A German Requiem) made it very hard to then return to the series in a truly chronological way. Kerr seems to have abandoned the switchback narrative in the most recent books; they seem to work better as a result.
He wonders what the point is anyway given that Nazi atrocities in the same area are much worse. He finds himself caught between the various agencies of the Nazi state each pursuing their own agenda. Plots are being hatched against the Leader. The Red Army begins what will be its long march to Berlin. Meanwhile people are turning up with their throats cut. Needless to say, Gunther gets to the bottom of it as well as having a brief fling with a forensic pathologist, as one does.
Kerr gets a lot of authentic detail of the period in. He also is very informative about the true history, including very recent research by Paul Preston The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain.
His hero does very much read like a US private investigator of the 50s, and at times his humorous asides don't quite fit. There remains, too, the problem of Bernie himself - while working for the Third Reich he has to disavow everything it stood for, and this stretches plausibility. But he's still a good read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A gripping novel featuring real people and real historical events. Very difficult to put down.Published 2 days ago by LPF
Like Philip Kerr because it is well researched, well written and gives you a good idea of how easy it was to get involved against your will in Nazi Germany.Published 2 months ago by Client d'Amazon