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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Episode
This is the latest installment in the Bernie Gunter series. This is what Kerr does best and shows how much of a trailblazer he was in setting his books in 30's Berlin. The last few books have been a combination of 30's Berlin and Gunter's post war career.

This time we find him in Berlin in 1934 and find that he has recently left the Kripo (criminal police),...
Published on 22 Sep 2009 by J. E. Parry

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bernie on the slide?
I read my last Bernie Gunther novel almost exactly two years ago. Looking back over that review, I felt Kerr's smart mouthed gumshoe was becoming a little jaded. I put this down to my having read the first 5 Gunther novels in a year. Returning to Berlin for a holiday, seemed like an ideal opportunity to pick up where I'd left off, and so it was. Reading about Bernie's...
Published 15 months ago by Quicksilver


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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Episode, 22 Sep 2009
By 
J. E. Parry "Jeff Parry" (Pontypool, Wales) - See all my reviews
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This is the latest installment in the Bernie Gunter series. This is what Kerr does best and shows how much of a trailblazer he was in setting his books in 30's Berlin. The last few books have been a combination of 30's Berlin and Gunter's post war career.

This time we find him in Berlin in 1934 and find that he has recently left the Kripo (criminal police), following the assumption of power by the Nazis, and is working as a house detective in Berlin's best hotel - the Adlon. A dead guest is found in a locked room and a Chinese box is stolen from another guest.

Gunter is also asked to help out with a former colleague's nephew, who is starting out as a homicide detective. Unfortunately the unidentified body turns out to be a Jew. Homicide detectives in Nazi Germany were not allowed to investigate the murders of Jews - it was considered to be a service to society that they were dead.

So Gunter decides to investigate. The case leads him to an encounter with senior Nazi officials, an American gangster, a beautiful American journalist and the building of the Olympic Stadium. 30's Berlin is again brought to life with the problems faced by Jews and those who are not happy with the new government. The way in which the Nazi's tentacles are beginning to grip German society are a great read.

Things are not resolved cleanly and the story moves to Cuba in 1954. The main protaganists meet again in Batista's Havana, just after Castro is jailed for a failed attack on a barracks. Gunter meets the journalist and the gangster again and also bumps into the leading mobsters, such as Meyer Lansky.

Gunter is asked to investigate another murder, at the request of the Mob and things are not as straight forward as anyone thinks.

This is another great addition to the Gunter series. Kerr shows why he is considered to be the king of pre-war thriller writing. Where Furst and Downing now walk, Kerr has already been and plotted the way.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, 25 Jun 2010
By 
Julia Flyte - See all my reviews
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This is a gripping detective story set in Berlin in 1934. The Nazis are in power and Germany is experiencing rapid change. The hero, Bernie Gunther, is a former cop who is now working as a hotel detective. He is investigating two deaths: one which took place in his hotel, and one which a police friend has asked for his assistance on. It's a complicated and skilfully constructed plot which encompasses corruption in the preparation for the Berlin Olympics, the possibility of a US boycott of the Olympics and the treatment of Jews and minorities in 1930s Germany. The plot later moves to Havana in the 1950s and at first you wonder why, but as some central characters re-appear it becomes evident that this is a continuation of the same story.

While this is the sixth Philip Kerr novel to feature hero Bernie Gunther, it is entirely possible to read and enjoy this book without having read the others. Some of the other books actually take place after the events of this one, while others pre-date it.

Philip Kerr's writing style combines the texture of Peter Temple's writing with the hard-boiled wit of Raymond Chandler. It's a pleasure to read. Like the best crime novels, the setting and the characters are as important to the story as the crimes themselves. The characters are wonderfully textured - real people.

My thanks to reviewer Nick Brett for bringing this one to my attention. It's a terrific read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real find!, 25 May 2010
By 
R. Fitzgerald "beckiefitz" (London) - See all my reviews
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I was looking for something new and interesting to read and a mate of mine recommended Philip Kerr. This is the first book I've read of his and I LOVE it! Intelligent, quick-witted and entertaining... great stuff!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bernie on the slide?, 2 May 2013
By 
Quicksilver (UK) - See all my reviews
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I read my last Bernie Gunther novel almost exactly two years ago. Looking back over that review, I felt Kerr's smart mouthed gumshoe was becoming a little jaded. I put this down to my having read the first 5 Gunther novels in a year. Returning to Berlin for a holiday, seemed like an ideal opportunity to pick up where I'd left off, and so it was. Reading about Bernie's pre-war exploits in the city, made it all the more atmospheric.

Yet now I have finished the novel, I can't help but think that Bernie is still on a downward slide. The mystery in this book is almost non-existent. It's more like a historical soap opera. In itself this wouldn't be a bad thing, but Bernie is in danger of becoming a caricature of himself. The quips that define him come almost too often and are too sharp. They're still funny, but they feel too researched. Lots of classical references, which feel false for a character with a hectic a life as Bernie. For the first time in the series its the author's voice that seems to be coming through his character's mouth.

The narrative moves abruptly from Berlin in 1934 to Cuba in 1954, jumping apparently arbitrarily. The story in Cuba picks up from where the previous Gunther novel (A Quiet Flame) left off. It meanders without much urgency, and one can't help wondering the point of it all. There are some exciting revelations at the end, but they are heavily disguised, being deliberately hidden from the reader by a break in the narrative timeline. Kerr has never done this before, and it feels lazy and disrespectful to his audience.

Despite its flaws 'ITDNR' remains readable throughout. The historical reconstruction is excellent and Bernie is still one of crime fiction's finest flawed heroes. Nevertheless, this book marks a further decline in overall quality. Field Grey is next, which had stellar reviews on release. I hope it marks a return to form.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If the Dead Rise Not, 20 Feb 2013
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: If the Dead Rise Not: A Bernie Gunther Novel (Kindle Edition)
The first part of this novel is set in Berlin, 1934, where we find Bernie Gunther working as house detective at the Adlon Hotel. Mrs Adlon asks Gunther to help her American journalist friend, the beautiful Noreen Charalambides, investigate the death of a Jewish boxer. Of course, Gunther, who is never immune to the charms of a beautiful woman - or the lure of money - agrees. However, their investigation leads them to corruption concerning the preparations for the upcoming Olympic games, American gangsters and escalating Nazi control of all forms of life in Germany. Again, Philip Kerr magnificently recreates the pre-war atmosphere of Germany brilliantly - these books are so atmospheric and full of cameo appearances by real life characters, such as Hess.

In the second part of the book, Gunther does meet up with the main characters again, although it is unlikely he would call many old friends. It is 1954 and he is living in Havana - having left Argentina at the end of the previous novel. Gunther yearns for Germany, although leaving South America (and his deep love of South American music...) is easier said than done. Once again, Noreen needs his help and, yet again, he is unable to refuse her. Also, for a further time, Gunther's skills as a detective are requested when there is a murder and his attempts to live a quiet life seem destined to fail. This is a fantastic addition to a brilliant series - the Bernie Gunther books are stunningly written and I hope there are many more to come.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story and characters..., 13 April 2010
By 
Jill Meyer (United States) - See all my reviews
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This is the first Philip Kerr-Bernie Gunther novel I've read, even though I am a great fan of historical fiction, particularly World War 1 and World War 2 genre. I picked this up and even though I probably should have started with Kerr's earlier books to get an idea of the Bernie Gunther character, this book was a very good read.

Set in Berlin in 1934 and involving some hefty plot points like Nazis, the coming Berlin Olympics, and several suspicious deaths Bernie investigates, the same characters meet up in Havana 20 years later. People are still meeting untimely ends and Bernie, who has evidently lived a cat's nine lives in the intervening twenty years, is involved. Many "real life people" make appearances in the book, including the whole Meyer Lansky crowd in 1950's Havana gambling spots and hotels.

Kerr is an excellent writer. He introduces plot points and characters who, in a lesser writer's hand, would seem slightly ridiculous. As a first time reader of the Gunther novels, I was introduced to nuanced character whose adventures I will now seek out in Kerr's backlist.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another twisting chapter in the life of Bernie Gunther, 5 Oct 2009
By 
N. Cliffe (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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Philip Kerr has written another thoughtful and intriguing story following the eventful career of cynical, world-weary Berlin detective Bernie Gunther. Skilfully plotted, the story shifts between the tropical colour and menacing undercurrent of 1950s pre-Castro gangland Cuba, and the heightening social tensions of pre-war Nazi Germany. Kerr's inimitable humour and writing style are keenly in evidence and again find a voice through our Chandler-esque protagonist. Readers new to Bernie Gunther novels will not find the historical setting or the mystery elements to be radically original but this takes nothing away from the brilliant storytelling and dark humour that is often lacking in other historical detective fiction. Familiar Kerr readers will also enjoy the book, particularly for the fleshing out of Bernie's past exploits as House detective of the Adlon in Berlin.Perhaps not the best Bernie Gunther novel, but a worthy addition to the canon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bernie at his best., 8 Nov 2012
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This review is from: If the Dead Rise Not: A Bernie Gunther Novel (Kindle Edition)
For those readers who have gone through the series of Bernie Gunther novels then this one just epitomises why you keep coming back - great stories set in a vibrant historical context, really well written, engaging characters, humour, suspense and a really likeable and believable leading man. Superb. Thank you again Mr Kerr - and please keep them coming!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another visit to Berlin's Marlowe, 28 Aug 2012
Do Germans actually have pantomimes in the same way the British do?

Is the phrase "let sleeping dogs lie" one which exists in German as well as English?

Philip Kerr's novel inadvertently raises these questions. It's something which - I suppose - is always possible when an English author writes a first-person narration from the point of view of a character from a completely different cultural tradition (in this case an ex-cop in Nazi Germany). Firstly, our hero notes that he and his companion are as inconspicuous as a pantomime horse, but is that not an English tradition? Would that really be an analogy that exists to a German speaker? Similarly he uses the phrase `let sleeping dogs lie' - but that is an old English expression, does it really translate that literally into German? Or would there be some other similar-meaning phrase which would be used instead? Okay, perhaps I'm being unfair on the second one, as by the time Gunther observes "it gives truth to the expression let sleeping does lie", he has learnt English - and so one could argue that that truism is something he's picked up in his new vocabulary. But I found it jarring nonetheless. I was quite prepared to believe the setting of 1934 Berlin, and later on 1954 Havana, but found odd moments like that disturbed me from the fantasy. All of a sudden, it became an Englishman relating this tale - not a German private detective - and the whole picture became fuzzier around the edges.

The last time I met Bernie Gunther, he was a cop in post-war Berlin. This time he is an ex-cop in pre-war Berlin (thrown out because he won't swear allegiance to the Nazis). In his job as a hotel detective, he meets a glamorous American, a gangster on a business vacation and a couple of copses. These strands will not be truly resolved until twenty years later in Cuba - where Gunther finds himself living under a false identity - and the tale builds to a genuinely surprising ending.

As befits a tale in the Chandler-esque tradition, there are the glib, cutting and throwaway remarks (as well as being a good sleuth, your true detective also has to be incredibly witty). But that's probably the main area where Kerr falls down, as his attempts at that kind of joke are frequently lazy. There is the cultural tone-deafness mentioned above, but others which really should have had a polish. For example, in early chapters he mentions a fat man who has more chins than a Chinese phonebook - now that might have been witty in 1934, yet clearly can't pass the muster in a novel published in 2010.

But then maybe that's a quibble. Kerr certainly needs to try harder in that area, but for the most part this is a well paced and exciting thriller, with genuinely surprising and interesting twists and turns.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars solid addition to the series, 9 Aug 2012
By 
Rob Kitchin - See all my reviews
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If The Dead Rise Not is a solid addition to the series, but in my view is not quite as good as some of the others in the series (which given the very high standard of the previous books is always going to be a tough challenge). The dialogue was, as ever, sharp and often caustic and very funny. The characterisation was excellent. The story was interesting. My issue was with pacing and coincidence. For me the 1934 period of the book, which was effectively the back story for 1954 period, was too long and drawn out and the 1954 period too short and underdeveloped. My sense was that the balance needed to be shifted to at least a fifty-fifty split in length, with the Cuba part of the plot extended and deepened to cover more of the politics of the time and the mob connections, and provide more details of Gunther's life post-Argentina (following on from the last book - A Quiet Flame). The ending was also too swift. In addition, the plot hinges on a coincidence in which three characters who have not seen each other in twenty years meet in the one location (on a different continent) in the space of a few hours. I had a hard time buying that. Despite these two issues, the book was still a highly enjoyable read and I look forward to the next instalment in the series.
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