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Berlin Noir ('March Violets', 'The Pale Criminal' and 'A German Requiem') (Penguin Crime/Mystery) Paperback – 29 Apr 1993


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Berlin Noir ('March Violets', 'The Pale Criminal' and 'A German Requiem') (Penguin Crime/Mystery) + The One From The Other: A Bernie Gunther Novel: A Bernie Gunther Mystery (Bernie Gunther Mystery 4) + Field Grey: A Bernie Gunther Novel (Bernie Gunther Mystery 7)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 848 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (29 April 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140231706
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140231700
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 3.7 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Philip Kerr was born in Edinburgh in 1956 and read Law at 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.

Product Description

About the Author

Philip Kerr is the author of many novels, but perhaps most important are the five featuring Bernie Gunther?A Quiet Flame, The One from the Other, and the Berlin Noir trilogy (March Violets, The Pale Criminal, and A German Requiem). He lives in London and Cornwall, England, with his family.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

118 of 120 people found the following review helpful By Leonard Fleisig TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 Nov. 2006
Format: Paperback
"A good story cannot be devised it has to be distilled." Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler was a master at taking a plot and distilling it into a taut, splendid story. Chandler, along with Dashiell Hammett, pretty much invented the "hard-boiled detective". So, when a writer, in this instance Philip Kerr, comes along who is repeatedly compared to Raymond Chandler comes along, I can't resist seeing for myself. I'm happy I picked up Berlin Noir and, even if Kerr is not quite Chandler, his stories are so well written that he need not be embarrassed by the comparison.

Berlin Noir consists of three Kerr novels, "March Violets", "The Pale Criminal", and "German Requiem". They each feature Kerr's exquisitely drawn detective Bernie Gunther. If you've read Hammett, Cain, or Chandler, Gunther is instantly recognizable. He's a tough ex-cop now working as a private eye. He's bitter and cynical and sees the corruption all around him. He also has an eye for the ladies as well as a taste for booze. But for all his flaws he lives up to a certain code; he knows the world isn't black and white but he has his own moral compass and lives by it - for the most part.

What distinguishes Gunther from Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe is location. Gunther is a German, and instead of Los Angeles, he makes his base in Berlin. The three stories are set in 1936 (March Violets"), 1938 ("Pale Criminal"), and 1947 (the aptly named "German Requiem") against the backdrop of the rise and fall of Hitler's Nazi Germany. He left the Berlin police once the force became nothing more than a tool of the new regime. The time and setting are perfect for a genre in which shades of grey dominate the palette.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By steve b on 16 May 2007
Format: Paperback
Bernie Gunther is an ex Kripo (German CID) officer working as a private detective in pre and post war Berlin. He is tough, cynical and wisecraking, but also honest and decent. In fact he is Sam Spade/Philip Marlowe transplaned from California to Germany. Bernie's job brings him into contact with historical figures like Himmler, Goering and Artur Nebe, the real life wartime head of the German Kripo.

Philip Kerr is one of those writers who can transplant you into a different world, in this case pre and post war Germany. In doing so he has created a number of slang terms which I do not know if they are real German slang but it does not matter as they sound right.

Berlin Noir contains three out of four Bernie Gunther novels, March Violets, The Pale Criminal and German Requiem. The first of these also concerns the German Rings who Mafia like controlled crime in pre Nazi Berlin. The Rings were destroyed by more violent criminals, the Nazis.

The Pale Criminal has Bernie recruited back into the Berlin Police in order to catch a serial killer who may be linked to the ruling Nazi Party. German Requiem moves to post war Berlin and Vienna with refences to the Third Man.

All three stand up in their own right and Mr Kerr can be congratulated on coming up with a new idea and for being able to create a milleu as well as being able to plot and write very well indeed.

Bernie Gunther is welcome and different addition to the ranks of fictional dectectives
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By K. D. Foster on 25 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback
I was introduced to Philip Kerr's book "Berlin Noir" by my eldest son, an avid reader who is always willing to share a good read with his Dad. The style of the book represents a refreshing departure for me in that my preferred choice of reading matter is invariably non-fictional and factual. I have been totally absorbed by the historical context of "Berlin Noir" and the work of the main character,one Bernhard Gunther, in a Germany on the brink of war and so heavily influenced by the all pervasive philosophy of National Socialism.

The three books making up "Berlin Noir" are all fast moving and have kept me awake at night impatiently wanting to discover the outcomes of Bernhard Gunther's investigations. I have always been passionately interested in modern history and have really enjoyed the ways in which Philip Kerr has interwoven psychological, geographical and political elements into the life work of a private investigator. The author demonstrates a rather unnerving and discomforting skill of integrating the reader into situations which become "normal" in an "everyday" and "today" sense, leaving the reader asking the question "How would I have behaved in this situation?"

The book has left me urgently wanting to move on to the following two books by Philip Kerr - "The One From The Other" and "The Quiet Flame". I have also found myself wanting to return to Berlin to explore this remarkable city with fresh eyes.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 25 July 2001
Format: Paperback
Picked up this book while browsing in a book store, being a big fan of Chandler and Ellroy etc. it was immediately appealling and proved exceptional, couldn't put it down. An excellent complilation, you really get to know the main character and the research into Berlin life and the rise and effects of the Nazis (appears) very well researched and is convincing. Berlin Requiem starts with a gap of over six with the war over and you are desperate to find out how the anti-Nazi of the early stories (pre-war years) survived. Each of the three story lines are excellently complex yet sufficiently explained to be plausable and certainly based on realistic circumstances. With Himmler dabbling in the black arts and the infighting within the Nazi party, and the Soviets getting the cold war off to a good start in post war Vienna, the plots put major figure heads at the centre where most authors would have feared to tred. I hope the authors other works are as good as I will be buying more. An excellent holiday or travel read, but be aware you may not be much company!
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