Customer Reviews


118 Reviews
5 star:
 (65)
4 star:
 (40)
3 star:
 (7)
2 star:
 (5)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars detective novel of the year
I read a lot of detective fiction, and if this doesn't win the Gold Dagger for 2011 then a crime will have been committed.....The sixth and best Bernie Gunther novel, it does not have to be read in sequence but Kerr's sardonic, Chandleresque German detective is back in 1941 Berlin, ducking and diving as he tries to operate within the Nazi system. "Brown on the outside,...
Published on 25 Nov. 2011 by Amanda Craig

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Same old same old from Bernie Gunter
Another Bernie Gunter novel by Phillip Kerr takes us back in time to the wartime career of the non-nazi gumshoe. Certainly better than more recent post war outings from Gunter but the plot and the exposure of the hero to the upper echelons of the Nazi party start to appear slightly ridiculous.

Full of interesting details re Prague in WWII but are we really...
Published on 20 July 2012 by Gleddings monkey


‹ Previous | 1 212 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars detective novel of the year, 25 Nov. 2011
By 
Amanda Craig "Amanda Craig" (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
I read a lot of detective fiction, and if this doesn't win the Gold Dagger for 2011 then a crime will have been committed.....The sixth and best Bernie Gunther novel, it does not have to be read in sequence but Kerr's sardonic, Chandleresque German detective is back in 1941 Berlin, ducking and diving as he tries to operate within the Nazi system. "Brown on the outside, red on the inside", he does what he can to alleviate the suffering of Jewish neighbours, and it's his exchange of priceless coffee beans for tins to try and stop two elderly Jews from starving which leads to his embroilment with a beautiful blonde, apparently fighting off a rapist.

They start an affair, and Bernie, for all his cynicism, falls in love. (Kerr is excellent at describing this, and sex, in a way that makes the reader suspect more than the narrator.)But Gunther, back in the "Alex" division of the police, is commanded to investigate a classic locked-room mystery by Heydrich, a real-life Nazi in charge of Czechoslovakia, who has every reason to fear for his life. Alone in a country-house full of killers, Gunther is spoilt for choice.

The brilliance of Prague Fatale works on a number of levels. For detective aficionados, using the locked-room mystery in Nazi Germany is a savagely funny way of exploring their crimes - though those familiar with Agatha Christie may not get many surprises as far as the identity of the killer. The atmosphere of Berlin and Prague is perfectly conveyed, with the noir tone being completely justified as it is sometimes not in American fiction. Bernie, as a damaged but decent detective, is at all times aware of the irony of his position, solving crimes while the biggest mass murder of the century is taking place. Lastly, his love affair sets up a horrible denouement which has modern parallels.

Above all, the quality of the writing is such that you can read a few pages at night before falling asleep, and not feel short-changed. I raced through it in an evening, but it deserves to be savoured. I haven't been so delighted by a book since Michael Dibdin's RATKING.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A serious book, and a strange one, 5 Nov. 2011
A hard book to pigeonhole, this. It starts as standard Bernie Gunther fare - grimy crime in Berlin, bars, tarts with hearts of gold, and so on. It ends in tatters. In between, it becomes a curious locked-door mystery from the golden age of British crime-fiction - butler, library, drinks before dinner - but with a cast of Nazi monsters as the country-house guests, and no Miss Marple in sight. If this is black humour, it's very black.

Need I say that it's excellent, spell-binding, hard to put down? In particular, Chapter 13, which is 144 pages long (yes, 144 pages) is a sustained piece of gripping procedural drama; Bernie Gunther at his stroppy best. Long may he continue.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back to 5 star writing, 6 Nov. 2011
By 
Jill Meyer (United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Philip Kerr's 8th book in his Bernie Gunther series, "Prague Fatale" is a return to the five star writing after "Field Grey", his 7th book, that was good, not great. Kerr's novels are best tagged as historical mysteries, but with less emphasis on the "mysteries" and more on the "historical". Kerr does an excellent job in evoking both the times of Germany in the 1930's, 40's, and 50's as well places. Some of the action in the eight books happens in such far flung locals as Cuba, South America, and the US, but most occur in Germany, Russia, and, in this case, Bohemia. One of the flukes of the series is that Philip Kerr doesn't write them in chronological order, so Bernie Gunther's time-set in this book is in early 1940's Berlin and Prague, but earlier books have had him in post-WW2 adventures.

In "Prague", Bernie Gunther is back working for the Berlin police and is back at the "Alex", the main Berlin police station in the Alexanderplatz. He had been serving in the SD, in Russia and had taken part in killings of partisans. Kerr is somewhat murky about Gunther's political allegiances; he's not a Nazi-party member, but is a member of the SD. He doesn't like Hitler but has been coerced into serving in various German army positions. Gunther seems to twist his body - and the reader - into contortionist positions in his attempts to explain who he was to whom.

In Berlin, in the summer of 1941, Bernie Gunther is trying to track down a knife-wielding killer when he meets up with a "good-time girl", who he rescues from what appeared to be a rape-attack. They begin a relationship - Gunther is a long-time widower and the woman is a recent widow - and when Reinhard Heydrich taps Bernie Gunther to serve him in his new post in Prague, Gunther and the young woman move to Nazi-occupied Prague. Various murders ensue and Gunther is charged by Heydrich to solve the murders. Added to the murders is the ever-present threat by Czech nationalists to disrupt the German occupation of Bohemia and Moravia.

"Prague Fatale" is a fast-paced book in which the reader becomes as confused as Bernie Gunther. But the old Berlin "bull" figures things out and the ending is tidily tied up. Bernie lives another day - don't even think you can read this series "in order" - and Philip Kerr has written another excellent novel.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bernie Gunther in 1941 Prague--an excellent murder thriller - 4+, 24 Feb. 2012
By 
Blue in Washington "Barry Ballow" (Washington, DC United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Philip Kerr continues to build and improve on the Inspector Bernie Gunther series with this latest episode in the detective's perilous WW II-era career. In "Prague Fatale" there has been a step back in time from the last Gunther book which had jumped to the post WW II period. It's now 1941 and Gunther, always under suspicion by the Nazi regime, has paradoxically been seconded to Prague by SS Commander and newly appointed Reichsprotector of Bohemia and Moravia, Reinhard Heydrich. Gunther is given the task of bodyguard to Heydrich, who claims that someone is trying to kill him. A posh manor house outside Prague has been filled by Heydrich with Nazi heavyweights, each more loathsome than the other, and one of whom the Reichsprotector suspects of malicious intent. A seemingly unrelated murder takes place immediately after Gunther's arrival at the house party that sets off a classical police procedural which provides the structure of the story.

With a genuflect in the direction of Agatha Christie, author Kerr lays down an intriguing and thoroughly entertaining classic manor house mystery albeit within the Nazi era context. The characters are well and sharply drawn and Bernie Gunther has never been wittier, better at his craft or more human. Kerr's sense of Germany and Europe during the Nazi years is keen and wholly credible. Very few false notes in any of this really excellent period crime piece. Highly recommended..
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing, 11 Aug. 2012
8th book in the Bernie Gunther series

"Prague Fatale" is as absorbing as its other companions in the series. The previous novels covered a varied time period right up to the 1950's and were staged in many countries including South America, Cuba and the US. This time we start off in 1941 deep into WW11 action with Bernie now under the command of Reinhard Heydrich, Reichsprotector of Bohemia.

After leaving the horrors of the Eastern Front the smart-mouthed, cynical and stubborn Bernie Gunther returns to Berlin to regain his old position at Kripo. The RAF is targeting his beloved city nightly: the blackouts, the destruction and food rationing are playing havoc with day to day life. Bernie's first case is to investigate the suspicious violent death of a Dutch railway worker. There is always an intriguing sub-plot Bernie is a master at multitasking hence he also finds himself in the middle of a rape attempt. Wouldn't you know it! The victim Arianne is a real beauty and she soon has Bernie under her spell. She turns out to be more trouble than our protagonist suspects.....

When Reinhard Heydrich orders him to spend the weekend at his country house with senor SS and SD figures Bernie puts everything on hold and goes with Arianne to Prague. Things get hectic when one of Heydrich's aides-de-camp is found murdered in his locked room. Bernie is ordered to investigate and his no nonsense, no bull style quickly raises the ire of the Nazi brass. Trouble should have been Bernie's middle name. Most of the action takes place at Heydrich's estate, in Arianne's hotel room and in the terrifying police HQ in Prague.

Prague Fatale" is a fast paced tale with an endlessly explosive atmosphere, an excellent and captivating novel. Like the others it is written in a sarcastic style with a twist of dark humour, Bernie is always portrayed as a deeply flawed but sympathetic protagonist. His first person narration goes a long way in creating the ambience of the time. All the supporting characters are equally well developed and play an intricate part in the story.

This novel is a wonderful blend of fact and fiction that can be enjoyed as a standalone or in sequel to the others
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Same old same old from Bernie Gunter, 20 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Prague Fatale: A Bernie Gunther Novel (Bernie Gunther Mystery Book 5) (Kindle Edition)
Another Bernie Gunter novel by Phillip Kerr takes us back in time to the wartime career of the non-nazi gumshoe. Certainly better than more recent post war outings from Gunter but the plot and the exposure of the hero to the upper echelons of the Nazi party start to appear slightly ridiculous.

Full of interesting details re Prague in WWII but are we really expected to believe that this Marlow-esq character would interact with the thugs of the third reich in this way? So far in the series Gunter has been involved with Heydrich, Goering, Eichman, Udet et al without sinking into the facist mire. OK so Gunter drinks a lot because of various traumas whilst operating on the Eatern front but don't most fictional detectives drink too much?

Presumably the next instalment will find him employed by Adolf to find Eva Brauns lost budgie?

The early Gunter novels are good but I think we are getting into the laws of diminishing returns here.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb WW2 noir thriller, 8 Mar. 2013
By 
CRP - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Historical facts and fantastic descriptive detail bring 1941 Berlin and Prague to life in this 'noir' crime procedural in which disaffected Berlin Police detective Bernie Gunther is seconded into the service of the Reichsprotektor Richard Heydrich, the infamous `Butcher of Prague'.

Gunther is invited to Prague to solve a murder at Heidrich's county house, a murder that that leads him deeper into the ruthless and violent world of the Third Reich, and the intrigue and infiltration of the German high command by the Czech nationalists.

If you haven't read any of Kerr's previous Bernie Gunther novels, don't be concerned. Start here. I can't recommend this one highly enough.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars A regular mystery?, 14 Nov. 2014
Three quotations from “Prague Fatale” may be helpful in conveying some of what Phillip Kerr achieves in this, the eighth Bernie Gunther novel. Bernie is content to think of himself as “the last real cop in Berlin”, a description that evokes in both its use of “cop” and the notion of a last-original the tradition of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Neither of their detectives is a police officer but Bernie takes on their role of principled, if sometimes, shady and very tough loner. One of the investigations in “Prague Fatale” is referred to as “a regular mystery story”, and the earlier and very different British tradition of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot and Miss Marples is used to introduce and explore a range of characters as suspects for what seems to be the classic locked-room murder of one of Reichsprotector of Bohemia, General Reinhard Heydrich's aides-de-camp at Heydrich’s country house. But the question, “How had we allowed Heydrich to happen?” -- that is, why had the German people had followed, supported or countenanced the rise to power of the Nazis and, in this case, of the chief-architect of the final solution to what Hitler called “the Jewish problem” – decisively moves this hard-boiled detective story, with its Agatha Christie mystery, into a different sphere altogether.

Although detection of crimes – initially the murder of a Dutch railway worker in Berlin and possible links with a Czech resistance circle – gives the novel its plotlines, the intersection of fiction and history that is characteristic of Kerr’s Berlin-set novels, pre-dates the start of the murder-and-detection plot: the prologue is dated 1942 and reports the death of Heydrich in Prague; the novel takes place in Berlin and Prague in the Autumn of 1941, and, aside from the Prologue, ends at about the time of the Wannsee Conference of January 1942, but before its dreadful outcomes were known. These historical events are brought into a relationship with the novel because Bernie Gunther, an unwilling member of the SD, has just returned from the Eastern Front where he apparently had no choice but to kill prisoners as part of the personal mass killings that preceded the impersonal gas chambers of the final solution.

The novel has shortcomings, chiefly the efforts required to keep Bernie at the heart of things, for example Heydrich’s appointment of Bernie as his private detective. Bernie is also too good to be true on occasions, and Kerr gives him every opportunity to tell readers how much he abhors the Nazis. It is as though, through his particular and unusual skills, Bernie represents those Germans who were not Nazis, but, here, Phillip Kerr’s analysis falls short of historical studies, such as Ian Kershaw’s two-volume biography of Hitler, with its explanation for how the Nazis were able to take over the country, his thesis that a majority filled in the details of and even anticipated Hitler’s terrible policies by “working towards the Fuhrer”. Of course, “Prague Finale” is a novel and not a history but because its achievements come from history, criticisms are reasonable. What does come across well is the atmosphere of fear and material deprivation in Berlin as the consequences of Hitler’s invasion of the USSR gradually become evident, even as no one can openly admit defeat.

I have read a couple of other Bernie Gunther novels and will certainly read more. However, I doubt that any will surpass the momentous conclusion to “Prague Fatale”, a conclusion which derives from history and not from any Poirot-like solution to a mystery.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Bernie Gunther becomes Hercule Poirot, 28 Jan. 2014
This review is from: Prague Fatale: A Bernie Gunther Novel (Bernie Gunther Mystery Book 5) (Kindle Edition)
It is a difficult for authors to have to shoehorn their plots into the constraints of real historical events, as for example in but this is even more difficult for a crime series. Philip Kerr wrote an original trilogy about his Chandler-like detective, Bernie Gunther, with two novels March Violets and The Pale Criminal set in the thirties during the early years of Nazi rule, and a final one – A German Requiem - set in the degraded and corrupted post-war Vienna of The Third Man. This problem with plotting becomes even more difficult for a convoluted series like the Bernie Gunther novels where the plots are often closely linked to real events, characters and dates. (This is where the Bernie Gunther series departs radically from the Chandler/Philip Marlowe template because Chandler’s novels, although mirroring the cultural and social life of 1940s’ California in stunning detail, did not focus on real historical events, politicians, elections etc.)

After a long hiatus after the trilogy, Kerr has written six more Bernie Gunther novels – I suppose for the excellent reason that they are popular. Novels 4, 5 and 6 in the series were set mainly in post-war Germany and Latin America after A German Requiem therefore did allow him a certain freedom in plotting. Novels 7, 8 and 9 have however gone back to Bernie’s wartime experiences, and this has introduced two main problems: one is the lack of surprise in that we already know the outlines of Bernie’s wartime experiences, and the fact that he survives the war, of course. The other is that we see Bernie acting as a part of the Nazi war machine, something which was always going to be difficult to resolve or explain. You couldn’t ever imagine Chandler’s Philip Marlowe ever heading up an SS death squad, so having Bernie in this role is a paradox that is at best illogical and out of character, and at worst ridiculous.

Prague Fatale is the eight book in the series, and begins in Berlin with the familiar seedy intrigues as Bernie moves among the underbelly of Berlin society investigating the death of a foreign worker on a railway line, and meeting a new girlfriend, Arianne Tauber. But then the plot changes abruptly as Bernie’s old bÍte noir, Reinhard Heydrich, brings Bernie to Prague to investigate the mysterious death of a German officer in a locked room. For a while the book becomes an unlikely homage to Agatha Christie as the murder mystery element takes centre stage, and Bernie becomes almost a Hercule Poirot figure – a man treating murder as an intellectual puzzle rather than as a moral issue. In this case however, the suspects are not English colonels, doctors and spinster aunts, but a list of appalling Nazis of the most degenerate kind. The denouement, as with many Kerr stories, is pure grand guignol and truly shocking.

Not as good as the best of Philip Kerr, yet still a 5 star thriller.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars (3.5 stars) Not many shades of grey, 1 April 2013
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This is my first Philip Kerr/Bernie Gunther but I'd heard good things about this author and series. Kerr has fun locating an Agatha Christie plot in Nazi Germany and occupied Prague. Name-checking Christie, Poirot and even a specific Christie book numerous times to ensure we get the allusion, there is a certain heavy-handedness about the book.

The dark and gritty historical background is done very well, but some of it is extremely unsubtle. Gunter is like a modern-day character with `our' response to the Nazi regime transported back to 1941 (`as I glanced around the library it was like looking at a menagerie of unpleasant animals - rats, jackals, vultures, hyenas'). He is consistently rude to all the high-ranking Nazi officers, including Heydrich himself; he openly shares his anti-Nazi sentiments with people he's met just five minutes before ("Resettlement. Yes, I know what that entails." "Good. It will save me having to explain the distinction between `resettlement' and `mass murder.'") and yet somehow is miraculously tolerated by the regime, and manages effortlessly to be neither thrown into a camp or shot.

The plot itself depends on a doctor being drunk enough not to notice something significant about the murdered man's body, and Gunter solves the crime in a moment of epiphany.

So this is an entertaining read overall though I found the Agatha Christie plot slightly awkward when placed in such a dark setting. I was also a little uncomfortable with the real Elizabeth Schwartzkopf being named as definitively the mistress to various Nazi officers.

I've seen Kerr compared to Le Carré which is one of the reasons this book appealed. Sadly, with Gunter so transparently and outspokenly anti-Nazi, this book lacked the danger, risk and moral dilemmas that le Carré's characters are made to confront. I might give Kerr and Gunter another try in case this is a blip but for me this book just doesn't have enough shades of grey.

3.5 stars: recommended with reservations.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 212 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Only search this product's reviews