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Prussian Blue by Philip Kerr
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Prussian Blue (2017)

by Philip Kerr

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Masterful!

Like a rat on a treadmill Bernie Gunther is once more caught up in the games of those from his past. It's 1956 and Erich Mielke, deputy head of the dreaded Stasi, has invited Gumther to dinner to put a proposition to him. Gunther refuses. That defiance comes at a price--his life. Now Gunther is on the run. Chased from Nice to Germany, pursued by a former Kripo associate, Gunther recalls the last time he saw Friedrich Korsch.
1939 a mountaintop village in Obersalzberg--Hitler's retreat. Bernie is sent to investigate a murder to ensure the safety of 'the leader' when he arrives for his birthday celebrations. The timeline is short and intense. Bernie is in danger from an unknown killer and from those who give him his orders.
I vacillated between 4 and 5 stars, but came down on the side of 5 as I've kept thinking about the background to this novel long after reading it, the dark confrontations of life in Nazi Germany pre the invasion of Poland, the graft and corruption--the decedent absolutism and unlawful acquisition and manufactured evidence. Into this maelstrom of indifference and power, Gunther is thrown. Always a step away from his own destruction, a witness to the brutal demise of others, harsh punishments, and an ironical longing for the proper avenues of investigations. Gunther almost naively continually tries for the unattainable in this political climate of hate and greed--Justice!
How Gunther continues to come through with some form of conscience and positive core values continually amazes.
Always defiant, if not openly, Gunther tries to be what he espouses--a policeman committed to finding the truth, even when finding that truth puts himself at risk. As the layers of happenings are unravelled, the false premises discarded, and the kernel of truth looked for, Gunther places himself in a dangerous position. The politically correct story, the alternative, that is wanted by those in power is far from what Gunther uncovers. Part of that uncovering leads into hints of the future that we've already seen in another case.
Cleverly executed, Kerr once more comes up with a crime noir winner. Bernie Gunther, disenchanted, hard boiled, sardonic and at at times outright crazy (thanks to the amphetamines he's given on his arrival in Obersalzberg), admirer of cats (look for those occasions) is a winner.

A NetGalley ARC ( )
  eyes.2c | Apr 3, 2017 |
Review can also be found in https://chillandreadblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/02/prussian-blue-by-philip-kerr/

“Prussian Blue” is the twelfth book in the “Bernie Gunther series”, yet again, it can be read as stand alone.

This book finds Bernie in the French Riviera, working on a hotel, as he receives a dinner invitation from his wife. It sounds rather strange to him, as it would be a little difficult for her to be there at the time, but he accepts the offer. When he arrives at the date, he founds himself having dinner with the head of Stasi police. It is 1956 and the Eastern Germany Police is shuffling the cards of the deck. Bernie is asked to handle a loose end of an agent, he is not so fond of. Given his integrity and honesty, he cannot commit murder, even to someone he dislikes. Therefore he is on the run, trying to escape being captured by an old partner.

The whole situation brings him memories of 17 years ago, 1939, when he was investigating a murder in Berghof, in Hitler’s country house, and actual headquarters of the chancellery and the Nazi Party, just before the invasion to Poland. It was not out of his fondness for the Nazis or Hitler that he agreed to this investigation, but rather of the selfe conservation feeling that kept him alive in the coming years.

This is a hell of a detective’s story that Kerr is up to with this novel. History is around the trenches at all time and the whole pre and post World War II atmosphere is vivid in the air of this Bavarian village. The narration is split between two eras with 17 year difference between them. It starts at 1956, with the reality of the East German Police, Stasi, leading their way around the world, committing their own crimes, just like the Gestapo. That is because, the same people that were in the police forces of Hitler’s Germany are still pulling the strings after the war. Nothing new for those who study history. It continues back in 1939, going back and forth really smoothly and not confusing the reader, as all the events from one era connect to those of the other.

Kerr’s narration is well known to his fans and so is Bernie’s integrity. The author tries really hard to keep his main character unchanged throughout the years and the difficult times, and he accomplishes it nonetheless. It is a remarkable job so to speak, being able to support your hero after 12 books!

It’s an atmospheric long but enjoyable read, destined to put the reader into some thought. Human nature is not far from the savage times. Given the current situation in Europe and around the world in general, where the right and fascist parties are getting strength and power, it is a reminder to us all of what has happened and what can become of people in power. Even the slightest power can make man hungry for more, can make him greedy, can make him think low of human life. Do we really want to see another Hitler dominating our world? Cause we are really not far from that… ( )
  GeorgiaKo | Apr 2, 2017 |
Prussian Blue is the twelfth book of Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther series. If I am going to be scrupulous though, it’s the twelve-and-a-half book because Gunther is caught up in more than one scary situation, one in 1939 and the other in 1956. It begins in 1956 when some old colleagues, including a former partner Friedrich Korsch, catch up with him in France to pressure him to assassinate an old flame. While fleeing them in 1956, he recalls the case that he worked with his Korsch in 1939. Gunther had requested his support in that investigation, but there are no permanent friends in a dictatorship, fascist or communist.

In 1939, Gunther was sent to Investigate a murder on the terrace of The Berghof, Hitler’s mountain home in the Obersalzberg near Berchtesgaden. Martin Borman, Hitler’s right-hand man had requested the best investigator and Heydrich sent him. The victim was Dr. Karl Flex, a civil servant who worked for Borman. The problem is, it would be a challenge to find a single person in the region who didn’t want Flex dead.

The investigation is fraught with peril as Flex was part of a group of grifters. He was using state power to force people to sell their homes below market value whether they wanted to sell or not. He was running a brothel and dealing in Pervitin, the crystal meth that fueled the Nazi war machine. He was skimming money in all sorts of ways, likely with Borman’s blessing. So, Gunther’s challenges are multiplying. Heydrich, his boss wants him to get dirt on Borman. Borman wants him to investigate and solve a murder without word getting out about the murder, because no one should be getting ideas about shooting anyone anywhere near the Leader. What would it say about Borman’s management if this new seat of government, this luxury compound for the leadership, was unsafe. Somehow, Gunther must navigate the interlocking web of corruption surrounding Borman and Flex without worrying Borman that he knows too much.

I liked Prussian Blue quite a bit. It is tense, suspenseful, and some of the characters are satisfyingly complex. Gunther, of course, is incredibly complicated, but he is not alone. Kerr is successful in creating the place and time without resorting to pedantry. You understand the political situation through natural conversations, not lectures and explanations.

I was worried after If the Dead Rise Not that taking him past the milieu of World War II Germany would diminish the knife-edge suspense, but it turns out that life can move on and Gunther can have post-war intrigue side by side with war-time recollections of his past. I liked the way the 1956 story intersected in multiple ways with the 1939 story. Not just because Korsch was his assistant then and his pursuer now. There are also geographic connections, each story ending in the same place. Even Prussian Blue is important in both timelines, an antidote in 1956 and a signal in 1939. These connections tie it all together well.

I was introduced to Bernie Gunther in an omnibus edition called Berlin Noir that included the first three books in the series, March Violets, The Pale Criminal, and A German Requiem. I was hooked. Somehow, without noticing, I have missed a few in the series since the last one I remember he was in Havana and that was only the sixth. That’s only good news, more great books to read.

Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther mysteries are satisfying. Gunther tries to be a moral man, but that is not an option. So he tries to be an honest cop–and discovers over time that is not an option, either. In trying to do his job honestly, rejecting Nazism as much as he can while still working for the Kripo, he finds himself implicated in Nazi crimes again and again. Is there a way to live and work in a fascist state with integrity. I think Gunther learns it is not possible if you work for the state.

Prussian Blue will be released on April 4th. I received an e-galley through First to Read

★★★★
http://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpress.com/2017/03/28/9780399177057/ ( )
  Tonstant.Weader | Mar 28, 2017 |
LINDA'S BOOK OBSESSION

Book Reviewer and lover of books



My Review of “Prussian Blue” by Philip Kerr

I would like to thank First to Read, Marian Wood Books/Putnam and Penguin books for the ARC of “Prussian Blue” by Philip Kerr, for my honest review.

The genres of this book are fiction and adventure. There is some mystery and a touch of history. The author uses two timelines, to tell us the story, 1939 and 1956.

The author introduces us to Bernhard Gunther (Bernie) in 1956 when he is on his way to meet his estranged wife at a hotel, and instead meets with Erich Mielke, who becomes the head of the East German Stasti. Bernie Gunter is a detective with a special gift to solve crimes. Bernie is described as honest as one can be, resourceful, having a moral compass, and telling how he feels about something.(shooting from the hip, so to speak) In both timelines, this irritates his superiors. Bernie also has the terrible luck of finding superiors , with less ethical intent,who want to use him and his talents.

Erich Miekle has deceived Bernie into meeting him and wants Bernie to kill a woman using thallium insuring her a torturous death. The only antidote is Prussian Blue, a pigment in paint. It seems that Bernie really has no choice if he wants to survive.

Going back to 1939, Bernie is at Reinhard Heydrich’s beck and call to find out who shot and killed a man on Hitler’s terrace at Oberslzberg. Heydrich also wants Bernie, in a detective capacity, to also “spy” on Martin Bormann and other officials that work for Hitler. Again, Bernie really has no choice. The authors describe most of the characters in 1939, as complex, evil, and power-hungry. There are many suspects that fit the description of the killer, and many who would have wanted to kill this person. Martin Bormann wants this case revolved before Hitler’s birthday, which gives Bernie a week.

In both timelines, Bernie finds himself in danger, and trying to use his wits to survive. There are times when we see Bernie feeling as “no one’s man”, and frustrated at the politics and situations.

I enjoyed this intriguing and exciting book and would highly recommend it!!
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LINDA'S BOOK OBSESSION Blog at WordPress.com. ( )
  teachlz | Mar 11, 2017 |
This was a really, really long book and I LOVED it!! I think this is my second Bernie Gunther book and I'm wondering why? I know I'm late jumping on this bandwagon, like really late.

As for its length, I know if I'm buying a book and spending $30, I don't want to be done with it in a few hours. I want it to last. This one does that.

Also, this one was about WWII, right before WWII. It takes place in Bavaria during the week before Hitler's big birthday celebration in a town that was all about him. Which was a few months before Germany invaded Poland. And real German bigwigs names were used. It even tells you at the end of the book the crimes they committed, if they served time and when they died. These people were not nice.

The book goes back and forth from that week to after the war to around 1956. When Bernie is tracked down and they need his services again to kill an English agent.

Lots of intrigue, secrets, crimes, lack of ethics, typical German palm greasing and backstabbing run rampant in this book. And, of course, Gunther's humor.

An awesome read and I've got some back reading to catch up on.

Huge thanks to Penguin Group Putnam for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  debkrenzer | Mar 3, 2017 |
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