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The One From The Other: A Bernie Gunther Mystery [Kindle Edition]

Philip Kerr
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Munich, 1949: Amid the chaos of defeat, it is home to all the backstabbing intrigue that prospers in the aftermath of war. A place where a private eye like Bernie Gunther can find a lot of not-quite-reputable work: cleaning up the Nazi past of well-to-do locals, abetting fugitives in the flight abroad, sorting out rival claims to stolen goods. It is work that fills Bernie with disgust - but it also fills his sorely depleted wallet.

Then a woman seeks him out. Her husband has disappeared. She's not looking to get him back - he's a wanted man who ran one of the most vicious concentration camps in Poland. She just wants confirmation that he's dead.

It is a simple enough job. But in post-war Germany, nothing is simple…

Books In This Series (7 Books)
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    Product Description


    Kerr is a fine novelist; in terms of narrative, dialogue, plot, pace and characterizations, he's in a league with John le Carré and Alan Furst - Washington Post

    Bernie Gunther's the right kind of hero for his time - and ours - New York Times Book Review

    Kerr's stylish noir writing makes every page a joy to read - Publisher's Weekly

    New York Times Book Review

    Bernie Gunther's the right kind of hero for his time - and ours

    Product details

    More About the Author

    Philip Kerr was born in 1966 and read Law at Birmingham University. Having learned nothing as an undergraduate lawyer he stayed on as postgraduate and read Law and Philosophy, most of this German, which was when and where he first became interested in German twentieth century history and, in particular, the Nazis. Following university he worked as a copywriter at a number of advertising agencies, including Saatchi & Saatchi, during which time he wrote no advertising slogans of any note. He spent most of his time in advertising researching an idea he'd had for a novel about a Berlin-based policeman, in 1936. And following several trips to Germany - and a great deal of walking around the mean streets of Berlin - his first novel, March Violets, was published in 1989 and introduced the world to Bernie Gunther.
    "I loved Berlin before the wall came down; I'm pretty fond of the place now, but back then it was perhaps the most atmospheric city on earth. Having a dark, not to say black sense of humour myself, it's always been somewhere I feel very comfortable."
    Having left advertising behind, Kerr worked for the London Evening Standard and produced two more novels featuring Bernie Gunther: The Pale Criminal (1990) and A German Requiem (1991). These were published as an omnibus edition, Berlin Noir in 1992.
    Thinking he might like to write something else, he did and published a host of other novels before returning to Bernie Gunther after a gap of sixteen years, with The One from the Other (2007).
    Says Kerr, "I never intended to leave such a large gap between Book 3 and Book 4; a lot of other stuff just got in the way; and I feel kind of lucky that people are still as interested in this guy as I am. If anything I'm more interested in him now than I was back in the day."
    Two more novels followed, A Quiet Flame (2008) and If the Dead Rise Not (2009).
    Field Gray (2010) is perhaps his most ambitious novel yet that features Bernie Gunther. Crossing a span of more than twenty years, it takes Bernie from Cuba, to New York, to Landsberg Prison in Germany where he vividly describes a story that covers his time in Paris, Toulouse, Minsk, Konigsberg, and his life as a German POW in Soviet Russia.
    Kerr is already working on an eighth title in the series.
    "I don't know how long I can keep doing them; I'll probably write one too many; but I don't feel that's happened yet."
    As P.B.Kerr Kerr is also the author of the popular 'Children of the Lamp' series.

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    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    67 of 68 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant (and Long-Awaited) Return to Form! 28 Dec. 2007
    By A. Ross TOP 500 REVIEWER
    Back in the early '90s, Kerr wrote the amazing "Berlin Noir" trilogy of detective novels set before, during, and after World War II. Featuring the sharp-tongued Berlin PI Bernie Gunther, they were packed with detail about the era, and eagerly awaited by fans of noir crime. Unfortunately, since then, Kerr went on to write a slew of largely forgettable blockbuster thrillers (including his last, the absolutely terrible "Hitler's Peace"). Some 15 years later he has surprisingly returned to Gunther and produces an absolute gem of a cynical noir equal to the original trilogy.

    Aside from a lengthy prologue set in 1937 (which finds Gunther traveling to Palestine on behalf a crooked SD officer and meeting with Hagganah and the infamous Hajj Amin El Husseini), the book takes place in 1949, as Germany struggles to put itself back together. Gunther isn't trying too hard though -- with his second wife in a mental hospital, he "manages" his dead father in-law's hotel, which is located uncomfortably close to the Dachau concentration camp. When his wife dies of flu, Gunther puts the hotel on the market and heads to Munich to become a private detective once again. There, he finds his services in great demand -- mainly those of the "missing persons located" variety.

    The postwar years were a bureaucratic disaster, and there were thousands of ex-Nazis who weren't accounted for. A series of cases has Gunther trying to track down what happened to several of these, including one involving a stunning blonde who wants to remarry but can't until her husband (a death camp commandant) is proven dead.
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    17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
    By Withnail67 TOP 1000 REVIEWER
    This is a real surprise, to see Kerr's famous hard-bitten Berlin gumshoe back among the ruins and moral wreckage of post-war Germany and Austria.

    If you know the 'Berlin Noir' trilogy, you'll know how well Kerr transferred the authentic voice of Chandler and Hammett into the mouth of Bernie Gunther, sometime officer in the Berlin KRIPO, sometime private eye. Kerr produced two excellent thrillers with Gunther in Nazi Berlin, before moving him post-war to shattered Vienna.

    This isn't quite as sharp as those three excellent crime novels, but is a page-turner nevertheless. Kerr weaves his research on war criminals, Israeli revenge gangs, Nazi contact with Zionist Palestine and radical Islamic groups, and the horrors of Nazi (and shockingly US) medical research on prisoners and mental patients, into a compelling plot which drifts a little close to the improbable without ever quite getting there.

    A sequel is in the offing, and this book's conclusion strongly suggests it's theme. A great read, and true to the spirit of 'Berlin Noir'. It doesn't look like Bernie's going to get a quiet retirement...
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    26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars A Nice Surprise 14 Mar. 2008
    I didn't expect a great deal from this book, I don't know why. I imagined it would be just another crime novel - nothing unusual - but I ended up getting hooked on it. It IS a crime novel but with a few clever twists and set to the backdrop of Munich and Vienna after the 2nd World War it provided some interesting historical facts. Philip Kerr's style reminded me somewhat of Raymond Chandler and was quite humourous and full of snappy retorts and clever asides. I really did enjoy it and the history of the war plus the settings of post-war Germany made very interesting reading. I would recommend this book - so much so that I am now searching out other titles by the same author.
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    7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars Good To Have Bernie Back? 16 April 2009
    Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
    Well, yes. On the whole, it is good to have Bernie back. The author appears to have matured over the years and for the first half to two-thirds I found this fourth installment markedly superior to the Berlin Noir trillogy. The last half/third was less satisfying with its seemingly endless series of unbelievable coincidences...and I do get a bit irritated with Bernie's inability to shut his gob when confronted with with a life threatening situation, or check who's at the door before he opens it, or keep his eyes and ears open when waiting for the killer to arrive. You'd think he would have learned something over the course of four novels, wouldn't you?

    It is the context that I find facinating - pre-thru-post-war Germany. If it wasn't for the context, I doubt I would have bothered so long. Is it better than most thrillers? Yes. Is it as good as the critics would suggest? No. But worth a read, I think.
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    3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars Bernie Gunther, back in business 21 Jan. 2010
    By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
    Despite kicking off with a fairly weak novel that got by more on novelty than quality, Philip Kerr's German trilogy of novels (March Violets, The Pale Criminal, A German Requiem) following German detective Bernie Gunther from Hitler's pre-war Germany to post-war Vienna was one of the best detective series of the 90s, so it was a shame he dropped them in favor of increasingly high concept novels that seemed aimed purely at getting film deals (he got the deals but the films never got made). A couple of years ago he brought Gunther out of mothballs with three new novels beginning with The One From the Other, and both author and character have profited from the rest.

    After a pre-war prologue in Palestine, the main body of the book sees Gunther given up the detective racket for running his wife's failing hotel in Dachau but finds himself going back to what he's good at in 1949 Munich where he finds himself hired to clean up the Nazi past of the son of one of I.G. Farben's directors and verify phoney rumors that war criminals are being tortured by Americans before being hired to ascertain whether a concentration camp commander is dead or not - and if not, locate him so his wife can shop him to the Russians so that, like the good Catholic she is, she can get remarried without the taint of divorce when they execute him.

    Kerr loves playing around with the ironies of forgotten corners of history and abandoned policies: the opening chapter in Palestine deals with the Nazis attempts to encourage and investigate funding Zionists in the hope that it would encourage the Jews to emigrate from Germany while at the same time having talks with Islamic fundamentalists just in case the talks with the Zionists don't come off.
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