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Gunther in Katyn Wood,
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This review is from: A Man Without Breath (Bernie Gunther Mystery 9) (Kindle Edition)
The 9th Bernie Gunther tale is one of the better ones. The author again places his roguish Berlin detective in a real historical situation, with real historical characters. This limits the degree of surprise [Gunther can't affect the outcome of the Battle of Kursk etc.] and it does mean that the murders the policeman tackles are but drops in an ocean of trouble. On this occasion he is sent to Katyn, where we know now the Soviet secret police massacred Polish army officers. The bodies have just been discovered . Goebbels wants to publicise the atrocity and divide the Allies. Bernie is given the task of seeing this goes to plan.
He wonders what the point is anyway given that Nazi atrocities in the same area are much worse. He finds himself caught between the various agencies of the Nazi state each pursuing their own agenda. Plots are being hatched against the Leader. The Red Army begins what will be its long march to Berlin. Meanwhile people are turning up with their throats cut. Needless to say, Gunther gets to the bottom of it as well as having a brief fling with a forensic pathologist, as one does.
Kerr gets a lot of authentic detail of the period in. He also is very informative about the true history, including very recent research by Paul Preston The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain.
His hero does very much read like a US private investigator of the 50s, and at times his humorous asides don't quite fit. There remains, too, the problem of Bernie himself - while working for the Third Reich he has to disavow everything it stood for, and this stretches plausibility. But he's still a good read.