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Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a story...., 15 April 2010
This review is from: A Quiet Flame: Bernie Gunther Mystery 5: A Bernie Gunther Mystery (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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