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61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Quiet Masterpiece
Fans of Philip Kerr's original trilogy of Bernie Gunther books were delighted in 206 when after a gap of 16 years, a fourth volume `The One from the Other' hit the bookshops in July.

Barely 15 months on and there's a very welcome fifth book in the series. And while reading it, it becomes clear that there are plans for at least one more volume from `the...
Published on 7 April 2008 by G. J. Oxley

versus
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Neither Here nor There
At the end of If the Dead Rise Not, Bernie Gunther was escaping to Argentina. In A Quiet Flame he has arrived, though not quite left Berlin behind. The story alternates between Germany in 1932 and Argentina in 1950. As with all Philip Kerr's work, the research has been formidable, the personal traits of Peron and Evita vouched for in an after note. But the downside is...
Published on 28 July 2012 by G. M. Sinstadt


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61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Quiet Masterpiece, 7 April 2008
By 
G. J. Oxley "Gaz" (Tyne & Wear, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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Fans of Philip Kerr's original trilogy of Bernie Gunther books were delighted in 206 when after a gap of 16 years, a fourth volume `The One from the Other' hit the bookshops in July.

Barely 15 months on and there's a very welcome fifth book in the series. And while reading it, it becomes clear that there are plans for at least one more volume from `the thinking reader's thriller writer'

Ex-Berlin homicide detective and private eye Bernie Gunther finds himself in Buenos Aries, Argentina in 1950 (read `The One From The Other' to find out why), a time when Juan Peron's government offered a safe haven for Nazi war criminals. The action switches largely between Berlin in 1932 - and Bernie's last abandoned case as a police officer when the mutilated body of a spastic teenage girl is discovered - and Buenos Aires in 1950 where he is invited to investigate a case with striking similarities.

What appears to be a simple case turns out to be anything but; twist is piled upon twist, and Gunther unwraps layer after layer until the final shocking revelation is revealed.

Once again, this is peopled with real personalities - Juan and Evita Peron, Adolf Eichmann, Joseph Mengele etc. - and blends fiction with conjecture based upon historical fact. It includes a chilling portrait of the man who was third ranked in the SS at the end of World War II, General Hans Kammler; perhaps the most heinous SS officer never to be caught.

Bernie Gunther is a great creation, never afraid to poke his nose into things he's been warned to keep out of. He's brave, principled and wisecracking - one character remarks he has a 'smart mouth' - and that gets him into trouble. He's a throwback to the golden age of Hammett and Chandler.

This intelligent, gripping thriller is richly detailed and tightly plotted. It has a moving ending (I won't give it away) that cries out for the sequel that will inevitably follow. All in all, this is top stuff.

So why not five stars? I'm benchmarking this against the best of Philip Kerr and it's not quite up there with 'A Philosophical Investigation' and one or two others.

But unfortunately, I have to agree with a previous reviewer's comments; this novel contains a whole slew of typos. Who the heck is responsible for proof-reading these books, and can I please have his job?
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "And unawares Morality expires, 1 July 2009
By 
Leonard Fleisig "Len" (Virginia Beach, Virginia) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Quiet Flame: A Bernie Gunther Novel: A Bernie Gunther Mystery (Bernie Gunther Mystery 5) (Paperback)
Nor public flame nor private dares to shine;
Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine!
Lo! thy dread empire Chaos is restor'd,
Light dies before thy uncreating word;
Thy hand, great Anarch, lets the curtain fall,
And universal darkness buries all." Alexander Pope

Bernie Gunther's flame is certainly a quiet one. He's a good detective, but a flawed man. The key though to Gunther's appeal is the fact that no one is more aware of his failings than Gunther himself. Philip Kerr does an excellent job evoking this self-reflection in his most recent Bernie Gunther detective story, "A Quiet Flame".

For those new to Kerr's Bernie Gunther stories, Gunther is a detective. He is German and during most of the series, set in the 1930s and 1940s we saw Gunther working as a detective in Berlin. He is virulently opposed to the Nazis to the point where many of his colleagues accuse him of being a communist. Yet, first and foremost Gunther wants to be a detective, he wants to solve cases and would like nothing better than to be left alone to do his job. However, he went along. Once the war came he found himself in the SS. He's not proud of his behavior and accepts the fact that he is guilty of `the crime of survival'. He says to himself, ruefully, that if he were truly a good man, he'd be dead because he would have stood up against the Nazis.

Now, it is 1950, and Bernie has fled Europe. He is wanted (wrongfully) for being a war criminal after having his identity stolen but he uses his new identity to escape to Argentina. Upon arrival he finds he has exchanged the madness and machinations of the Nazi regime for that of Juan and Eva Peron's. He is forced into taking on a murder mystery that has occurred within the German (Nazi) émigré community, a brutal murder that bears a stark resemblance to a brutal unsolved murder Gunther investigated in the 1930s in Berlin. The book progresses on two paths. The first path is Gunther's reflections back on the unsolved Berlin murder and the second involves his current investigation. The paths not being parallel finally merge and Gunther is left to deal with the startling consequences of his investigation.

Quiet Flame is an entertaining story and one that lives up to the high quality of Kerr's writing in his previous Gunther novels. His characterization of Gunther is first rate even if he never really fleshes out the characters of his secondary protagonists. Gunther is portrayed with a great deal of nuance. There is goodness about him but he is fully aware of how unclean his hands are. This nuanced look makes the more black-and-white portrayal of the Argentine and German bad guys seem somewhat superficial. That's not a major issue though as the excellent portrayal of Gunther and the book's pacing kept me turning the pages. It's easy to paint a decent, flawed man with nuance but pretty hard to avoid the broad strokes when dealing with unrepentant killers.

All-in-all this is a worthy addition to the Bernie Gunther series. L. Fleisig
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Neither Here nor There, 28 July 2012
By 
G. M. Sinstadt - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Quiet Flame: A Bernie Gunther Novel: A Bernie Gunther Mystery (Bernie Gunther Mystery 5) (Paperback)
At the end of If the Dead Rise Not, Bernie Gunther was escaping to Argentina. In A Quiet Flame he has arrived, though not quite left Berlin behind. The story alternates between Germany in 1932 and Argentina in 1950. As with all Philip Kerr's work, the research has been formidable, the personal traits of Peron and Evita vouched for in an after note. But the downside is a plethora of authentic but small, irrelevant details (Augustin Magaldi came on Radio El Mundo singing Vagabundo. This had been a huge hit for him in the thirties) that stretches the book to more than 400 pages.

The reason for the dual locations is the similarity between an investigation Bernie undertook in Berlin and another he is pitched into in Buenos Aires. For the first half of the book these are virtually two separate stories, requiring the reader to reorientate and remember every thirty or so pages. The final unravelling depends heavily upon an improbable confession by a minor character and leads to even more unlikely melodrama.

Followers of Philip Kerr will find here all the author's characteristics - good and bad.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, 1 Feb 2010
By 
A. Browne "avid reader" (Donegal Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Quiet Flame: A Bernie Gunther Novel: A Bernie Gunther Mystery (Bernie Gunther Mystery 5) (Paperback)
Absolutely Brilliant. I loved this book . great story. exciting location. and more character development. you can read this as a stand alone novel but the best way is as part of the series.You learn so muh more with each story and Bernie Gnther is becoming one of the most rounded detectives in fiction. One quibble he finds a babe every where, they fall for him and it doesn't work out ( no further spoilers) A love interest is all very well but it all seems to easy. Any way i am already to follow Bernie to Cuba.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best of the Bernie Gunther novels (so far), 13 Jan 2009
By 
S. J. Buck (Alexandria VA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Quiet Flame: A Bernie Gunther Novel: A Bernie Gunther Mystery (Bernie Gunther Mystery 5) (Paperback)
Kerr's increasingly Chandler-esque Berlin detective Bernie Gunther makes his 5th appearance in 'A Quiet Flame'.

The plot has been well summarised by other reviewers so I won't repeat their synopses: I guessed about halfway through that Uki Goni's excellent 'The Real Odessa' must have been a primary historical source for the story. Kerr does credit Goni in an afterword and weaves an excellent plot and characters around this starting point, I think his most complete Gunther story yet. The settings and plot feel authentic and the characters are fully drawn: if you like a German post-war detective in the Chandler mode, complete with one-liners, Bernie fits the bill!

Unlike a lot of novels based on non-English history, Bernie being a thoroughly German character doesn't jar with the setting or plot, or indeed the direct Chandler references.

Doesn't have to be read in sequence with the other Gunther novels if you haven't read them before, but works particularly well if you have.

For me, the combination of a great plot, authentic settings and characters in a well-told story will bring me back for more. In this light I would bracket Kerr with Stephen Hunter's or James Lee Burke's books: if you like them you may well enjoy this and vice versa - I do!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quiet flame flickers only intermittently, 8 Aug 2009
This review is from: A Quiet Flame: A Bernie Gunther Novel: A Bernie Gunther Mystery (Bernie Gunther Mystery 5) (Paperback)
The further adventures of Marlowesque detective Bernie Gunther, hero of Kerr's wartime-set classic Berlin Noir trilogy and the rather good sequel The One From the Other. Bernie has arrived in Argentina, accidentally exiled along some unsavoury ex-SS types. He's called in (by Evita, no less) to solve a grizzly murder with a connection to a cold case he worked on back in Berlin in 1932. Could the murderer be an 'old comrade'? The book flips between the 1932 case and the Buenos Aries of 1950, making it partly a prequel to the original books and partly a postscript. The idea of a tale to top and tail the Nazi period is excellent, but alas doesn't really work. The 1932 section is just too long and aimless. Bernie's pugnacious anti-Nazism is worthy but wearing and the sheer weirdness of the waning Weimar republic is not really realised. Moreover Kerr fumbles a fantastic chance to contrast his character in 1932 and 1950. Kerr is fine writer and should have had fun with this, but alas Bernie appears weirdly undeveloped by the extraordinary (and exhausting) 18 year interlude. The pace picks up as the setting returns to the queasy quasi Nazism of Peron's Argentina, but tighter editing could have made this so much better.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a story...., 15 April 2010
By 
Jill Meyer (United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Quiet Flame: A Bernie Gunther Novel: A Bernie Gunther Mystery (Bernie Gunther Mystery 5) (Paperback)
Philip Kerr's "A Quiet Flame" is my second Bernie Gunther novel. Somewhat late to the game, I recently read, enjoyed, and reviewed "If The Dead Rise Not", giving it five stars. I'm an avid reader of WW1 and WW2 fiction and non-fiction, and had somehow missed Philip Kerr. I'm now on a mad rush to read all Kerr's backlist.

"Flame" is quite a novel. Kerr alternates both time and locale, Berlin in 1932 and Buenos Aires in 1950, telling a tale of policeman Bernie Gunther's hunt for a vicious murderer. Gunther, a cop's cop, has no fondness for the incoming Nazi regime. He wends his way thought the various political affiliations at "The Alex" to solve crimes.
He is subsequently "reassigned" to paper-pushing when the Nazis finally take power and purge the Berlin police department of any dissident voices.

Eighteen years and many lifetimes pass and Gunther finds himself on a freighter leaving Italy, heading for Argentina. His companions are former German war criminals passed along the "Rat line" from probable prosecution for war crimes in post-war Europe to safety in the Peronist-Argentina. A new future, along with a new name and identity, await Gunther in BA, where he hopes to obtain an Argentine passport (instead of the rather flimsy Red Cross passport) and return to Germany and live quietly under his alias, Carlos Hauser. However, BA is no more free of corruption and crime than was Berlin twenty years earlier. Gunther gets swept up in a police-investigation of murder, missing young women, and just who is a "bad Nazi" and who is a "really bad Nazi".

Gunther, who can wise-crack in German, Spanish, and Russian, soon finds that no one is who he says he is, and almost everybody he meets has at least one agenda, and often more than one. Of course, he meets, woos, and then loses a couple of beautiful women and meets past companions in new settings. Most of the story takes place in BA, with a few long flashbacks to Berlin.

Kerr's a very good writer. Gunther is seen as a flawed but essentially decent man. Not so most of the other characters.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a perfect series perfectly continues, 19 Sep 2009
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This review is from: A Quiet Flame: A Bernie Gunther Novel: A Bernie Gunther Mystery (Bernie Gunther Mystery 5) (Paperback)
This is number 5 in the Bernie Gunther series, and Philip Kerr quietly and surely maintains the trademark excellent pace, plot, humour, originality, and uniqueness that make it all so enjoyable. The other reviewers have said enough, and I will just add I especially enjoyed this one, set mostly in Argentina with Berlin flash backs.
Well, for those who don't know Bernie, it's time to catch up. Number 6 just came out and I just got it from Amz to my great joy.
A great special thank you to Philip Kerr for all these great books.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A quiet and disturbing book, 27 Mar 2008
It's astonishing to me that Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther books still seem relatively little known. All the more pleasure for this reader, then, when another in the series appears unexpectedly on the bookshelves. This time Bernie is in Argentina in 1950, where thousands of Nazi fugitives and tens of thousands of refugees co-exist uneasily. It's the perfect location for some grimy, low-key action.

What a shame, then, that this excellent book has been so poorly copy-edited. We have mis-spelled and wrongly accented Spanish, "dyeing" spelled "dying", "Bernard Weiss" becoming "Bernhard Weiss" after a few pages, "practice" (the noun) repeatedly being spelled "practise" (the verb), "epicentre" being lazily used where "centre" was meant, and so on. Yes, the author must take some blame, but really - this is what editors are paid to pick up.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Gunther in Argentina, 30 Jun 2009
By 
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Quiet Flame: A Bernie Gunther Novel: A Bernie Gunther Mystery (Bernie Gunther Mystery 5) (Paperback)
The fourth Bernie Gunther thriller (The One from the Other) saw the ex-police detective get caught up in the sordid post-World War II smuggling of Nazis out of Europe. These pipelines involved, among others, the Catholic Church, the CIA, and the secret organization known as Odessa (which featured in Frederic Forsyth's excellent thriller The Odessa File). By the end of that earlier adventure, Gunther is forced to avail himself of one of these networks. This fifth in the series finds him sharing a boat to Argentina with Adolf Eichmann in 1950, with a new identity and no idea what to do next.

Fortunately, a high-ranking member of Argentine dictator Juan Peron's secret police knows of Gunther's past as a star homicide cop in Berlin, and offers him a job as a special investigator. It seems that a local German girl was gruesomely killed in a way that is eerily similar to a case Gunther handled back in Germany in 1932. The secret policeman believes the killer is part of the large secretive German community in Buenos Aires, and wants Gunther to track him down. The book then skips back and forth between 1932 Berlin and 1950 Buenos Aires, detailing the course of both investigations. The seedy atmosphere of interwar Berlin oozes off the page, and Kerr's command of the era is wholly evident. Argentina is rendered a little more loosely, and never quite comes alive in the same way.

Naturally, the story gets much more complicated than mere murder, as Kerr ups the ante quite a bit. Unfortunately, this rather takes it out of the series' hardboiled turf and into international thriller territory (a genre Kerr has written in, but not nearly as well). Over the course of the book Gunther into contact with all kinds of historical figures, including Juan and Evita Person, and Nazis on the run such as Eichmann, Joseph Mengele, and SS General Hans Kammler (who most credible sources agree died late in the war). It all gets to be a bit overheated for my taste, and the ending seems to clearly indicate another chapter in Bernie Gunther's life will be forthcoming.

Note: Much of the novel's information about the Nazi pipeline to Argentina comes from Uki Goni's classic book, The Real Odessa: How Peron Brought the Nazi War Criminals to Argentina.
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