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Berlin Noir: March Violets; The Pale…

Berlin Noir: March Violets; The Pale Criminal; A German Requiem (original 1993; edition 1994)

by Philip Kerr

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1,184336,790 (4.11)98
Bernard Gunther is an imperfect man in a far from perfect world. As a skilled detective he tries to solve crimes in a newly Nazified Germany only to find that at every turn he comes up against corruption. Speaking out against the regime is increasingly dangerous and Gunther is increasingly led to compromise with the evil around him. In A German Requiem he discovers that even an Allied victory is not sufficient to destroy Nazism. The Western powers are too busy turning against the Soviets to complete the job of hunting down war criminals, especially those who have convincingly faked their own deaths. Intriguing stories with a convincing portrayal of a society fun by fear and threats.
  ritaer | Jun 11, 2012 |
English (23)  French (4)  Dutch (4)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (33)
Showing 23 of 23
Recommended by [a: Lavie Tidhar|572738|Lavie Tidhar|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1369652429p2/572738.jpg] ( )
  supercoldd | Aug 27, 2015 |
Bevat: Een Berlijnse kwestie
Het handwerk van de beul
Een Duits requiem
  Marjoles | Apr 26, 2014 |
In the last of the trilogy, Berlin Noir, (Pale Criminal and March Violets) it’s 1948, Berlin is a mess, and Bernie is hired by a former colleague, Becker, to come to to discover who might really have killed a Captain Linden, an American counterintelligence officer. Becker is in jail awaiting trial for the murder, and the evidence against him appears overwhelmingly strong. Bernie soon finds himself enmeshed in a web of intrigue that pits a clandestine American intelligence operation against ex-Nazis calling themselves the “Org.” Many of these Nazis had ostensibly been killed during the war. They had apparently faked their deaths, assumed new identities, and let all the new records fall “accidentally” into Allied hands. Unfortunately, they had not been able to fake their dental records and when Linden stumbled across their trail and decided to blackmail them, the case became quite messy. Kerr is always good, and these riveting stories reek of authenticity. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
Entertaining.Need to concentrate,Wonderful atmospheric Berlin 30s setting.Reads v convincingly.Amusing in that Heydrich,Goering,Himmler all pop up and are included as characters with roles to play.Can't work out whether this is supposed to be amusing but I find it so.Quite dark in parts but always a good read. 'Hero'reads very like a version of Philip Marlowe.Enjoyrd this ( )
  babybelle | Sep 11, 2013 |
In one big paperback you get the complete Berlin trilogy: March Violets; The Pale Criminal and A German Requiem. This is noir at its best. Taking his cues from Chandler but making them its own, Kerr takes us into Berlin, 1936. Summer Olympics. Bernhard Gunther, ex-cop, now a private detective mostly finds missing persons and there are lot of them in Nazi's Berlin. Murder, politics and a very nice twist makes March Violets a very good start to a wonderful ride thru this dark part of history. The Pale Criminal finds Bernie back on the force in 1938 on the edge of war when Berlin experiences the mad spree of a serial killer. A German Requiem opens in 1947, in a devastated Berlin, Bernie is again a private detective living day to day and watching his wife romance US soldiers. An old cop buddy needs Bernie to prove him innocent of murder. We go along with Bernie to post war Vienna and the web of intrigues have layers upon layers. I just loved these books. Completely. There are thrilling, unexpected and give the reader quite a ride. The good news is that Philip Kerr revisited this universe with "One From the Other" set in 1949 published in September 2006. ( )
  writerlibrarian | Apr 4, 2013 |
Review of A German Requiem:

Once again, Berlin private detective Bernie Gunther is up to his neck in grisly intrigue. In the first two books of Philip Kerr's Berlin Noir series, Gunther was a private eye in pre-WW2 Berlin, and his cases brought him into contact with an array of Nazi bigwigs. Now it is Berlin 1947, and the city is awash in ruins, black marketeers, American soldiers and, even worse, Russians. Gunther is hired to try to clear a former friend and current black market operator (and who knows what else?) who is accused of shooting an American occupation officer. The case brings Gunther to Vienna. The twists and turns of the imaginative plot are entertaining, as are the characterizations. Not much in the way of strong women here, though, and I did find myself wishing Kerr could have laid off the forced hard-boiled detective story metaphors a bit. But overall this is a very enjoyable detective story set in a fascinating time and place. 3 1/2 stars. ( )
1 vote rocketjk | Nov 23, 2012 |
Great stuff! Up there with Chandler. ( )
  denmoir | Oct 17, 2012 |
I liked the setting 1930s Berlin and post war Vienna. A different dynamic from the average mystery or suspense fiction. I liked the trip through this era. ( )
  charlie68 | Aug 3, 2012 |
Bernard Gunther is an imperfect man in a far from perfect world. As a skilled detective he tries to solve crimes in a newly Nazified Germany only to find that at every turn he comes up against corruption. Speaking out against the regime is increasingly dangerous and Gunther is increasingly led to compromise with the evil around him. In A German Requiem he discovers that even an Allied victory is not sufficient to destroy Nazism. The Western powers are too busy turning against the Soviets to complete the job of hunting down war criminals, especially those who have convincingly faked their own deaths. Intriguing stories with a convincing portrayal of a society fun by fear and threats.
  ritaer | Jun 11, 2012 |
Horrible. Couldn't even finish it. The author uses a lot of equations to fill the pages and this slows down the story. ( )
  alexvalk | Mar 19, 2012 |
I recently had my "hardboiled detective fiction"-deflowering with Raymond Chandler's 'Farewell, my lovely' and it left me hankering for more. I confess, I could have fired up my browser, clicked a few times and had ten more examples of the genre in my possession within the week, but I prefer to stumble upon my books rather that purposefully order them. And so it was with great pleasure that I bought Philip Kerr's Berlin Noir, containing not one but three prime examples. Not only that, but it also satisfied my other literary kink: alternate history and/or urban fantasy set in or around WWII.

The combination sounds odd. I mean, the hardboiled detective immediately brings images of rainy American streets, dank alleyways and the ever-present saxophone soundtrack. You wouldn't immediately think: hey, this would work just fine if it were set in 1930s Germany. Or perhaps you would, but I didn't. The thing is, it doesn't just work, it soars. It confiscates a space shuttle and draws a swastika on the moon, so to speak.

Kerr's protagonist Bernhard (Bernie) Gunther is as fallible as they come, a bleeding heart on the dark sliding incline of German society in the late thirties. He keeps his word, he has a weak spot for the ladies and he can't abide by injustice. All the trappings of your classic gumshoe and yet he still feels like a fresh take. Kerr then blends this classic and tragic antihero with very real figures in the history of the Third Reich. People like Arthur Nebe, Reinhard Heydrich, Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler. The plots he weaves kept me guessing for quite a while before I finally figured out whodunnit.

As I said on FB while I was reading these three books in one: this needs to be a movie. And it needs to be a good one or so help me god. ( )
1 vote Crayne | Oct 14, 2011 |
Disturbing stuff, still thinking about it: titillation/repulsion, Nazis/Sam Spade, hopelessness/action. Revisionist WWII nostalgia?? You don't feel quite as dirty as after reading a James Ellroy, but you should! ( )
  kerns222 | Jun 26, 2011 |
I've long been a fan of Philip Kerr but in the Bernie Gunther series he excels against his own standards. Every time I finish one, I want more especially those that can fill the gaps left in Bernie's life ( )
  tomcannon45 | Jul 17, 2010 |
A good read for contextual purposes on Berlin in the 30s, however the prose is somewhat overdone verging on purple ( )
  JayLivernois | Jun 3, 2010 |
The first novel in this trilogy introduces Bernie Gunther a German ex-policeman, now private investigation, who works in Berlin in the 1930s. He is not sympathetic to the Nazis but knows how to 'navigate' his way in the new political climate. He is asked to investigate a case by a rich industrialist and another one by Goering. The authors writes a very noir novel with all the ingredients of the genre. Interesting writing and a good plot. ( )
  alalba | May 22, 2010 |
March Violets - haven't read the rest yet.

March Violets is set in Berlin in 1936. My quick summary is "gritty". Bernie Gunther is an ex-policeman turned private investigator. He gets hired by Hermann Six, a prominent industrial magnate, to figure out who stole his daughter's diamond necklace, but really to find out who killed the daughter and his son-in-law in a fire. The plot is complicated, but very well done, and the detail about life in Nazi Germany is what really made this book stand out for me. There's murder, bodies, violent sex, animals getting hurt, and much more harrowing stuff that I don't want to give away. And a lot of the ominous feeling comes from the violence of the Nazis, as well as what actually happens.

I gave it 4 stars, not more, because it is very violent and very masculine. Here is Bernie's description of his new secretary :

" That morning she was wearing a dress of dark-green cotton with a fluted collar and cavalier cuffs of stiffened white lace. For a brief moment I fed myself on the fantasy that had me lifting her dress up and familiarizing myself with the curve of her buttocks and the depth of her sex."

OK, whatever. And there are a lot of metaphors and one-liners, e.g. (about a prostitute): "Her breasts were like the rear ends of a pair of dray horses at the end of a long hard day. Maybe she still had a few clients, but I thought it was a better bet that I'd see a Jew at the front of a Nuremberg pork-butcher's queue." I liked them, but there were a few too many. ( )
  cushlareads | May 8, 2010 |
March violets: 3,5 stars
The pale criminal: 4 stars
A German Requiem: 4,5 stars ( )
  marieke54 | Jan 1, 2010 |
Excellently realized novels of life under the National Socialists. The first, March Violets, takes place in 1936, the Olympics are about to begin and Bernie Gunther is a policement investigating murders that embroil him in the nazi hierarchy. The second, Pale Criminal takes place in 1938 and the Nazis have firm control of the country. Gunther leaves the police force to avoid having to submit to nazi power and goes it alone. The third, A German Requiem is set in 1947 in ruined Berlin and Austria. Gunther is asked by a former colleague to save him from a murder charge.
The writing is exceptional and the period details are wonderful. Just for the trivia alone I would recommend the books. But they also have finely drawn characters and plots that are twisty and fun to follow. ( )
2 vote susanamper | Jun 4, 2009 |
Berlin Noir is, as its name suggests, self-consciously and unashamedly in the noir section of the crime genre. A collection of three novels, with two based in Nazi-era Berlin ("March Violets" and "The Pale Criminal") and one during the post-war allied administration, Kerr has the perfect background for his gritty crime novel: sex, corruption and death are common-place in this setting. It is exploited to its full, Kerr's tired but determined detective investigating a range of murders, bristling with twists and similes and with the Nazi regime or the nascent cold war providing a constant threat. At times Kerr's style comes close to caricature, but that does not detract from these gripping and enjoyable novels. ( )
  laphroaig | Apr 26, 2009 |
As far as I'm concerned, this is one of the best books I have read in years - and I am one of the most fussiest & pickiest readers in all of Europe! Books one & two are great while book three is also good but pales in comparison to the first two.

The books revolve around an ex-Berlin criminal detective called Bernhard "Bernie" Gunther who leaves the police force in 1933 after the rise of Hitler and instead he becomes a private investigator. What makes these books so great is that Philip Kerr gives us a deep and detailed insight into what life was like in 1930's Germany and how your every move could put you in conflict with the Nazi regime.

Berlin Noir is a collection of the three Gunther novels, the first one set in 1936, the second in 1938 and the third in 1948 (in the aftermath of the war). This is one criticism I will make about the books - there is a 10 year time gap between books 2 & 3. I would have thought it'd make sense to write book 3 sometime in the early 1940's and have "A German Requiem" made as book 4 instead. Instead we have a 10 year leap between stories which makes things in book 3 a little disjointed. In book 3, the author briefly describes what happened to Gunther during the war, the fact he served in the SS and Abwehr in Russia before being captured by the Russians & becoming a prisoner of war. That's fine to know but why not write a whole new story around it instead?

OK, let's take a look at each book in turn.

Book one - MARCH VIOLETS - set in the backdrop of the 1936 Olympics, this story introduces us to Gunther and then onto a case where he is hired by a German billionaire to investigate the arson deaths of his daughter and son-in-law. In fact all he actually wants is for Gunther to discover where a precious necklace belonging to his daughter is but it isn't long before Gunther is digging into the family's dirty laundry. Both the daughter and the son-in-law (a rising star in the Nazi Party) were shot repeatedly in the head before the fire started and both the necklace and important papers are missing. The case brings Gunther into violent contact with the Nazis (in the shape of Reinhard Heydrich) and also German organised crime.

Book two - THE PALE CRIMINAL - Gunther is forced by Heydrich to temporarily re-join the Berlin criminal police after a serial killer is on the loose in Berlin, murdering blonde Aryan girls. The police have no leads which is highly embarrassing for the regime so Gunther is pressed back into service with a promotion to the rank of Kommissar. He soon finds that this case reaches into the highest levels of the Nazi Party and he finds himself investigating corrupt SS officials with a sinister agenda...

Book three - A GERMAN REQUIEM - as I said before, this story suffers from a 10 year lapse from book 2. Gunther is now much older, much wiser and also recovering from his experiences in Russia including a stint in a Russian POW camp. He is now back in ruined Berlin with his wife which is under 4 power occupation. Working from his ruined home, Gunther finds out that one of his former police colleagues, Emil Becker, is under arrest in Vienna and faces the death sentence for the murder of a US Army captain who was investigating Nazi war crimes. A friend of Becker, a Russian Intelligence major, coerces Gunther with lots of money into going to Vienna and working with Becker's defence lawyer to prove Becker's innocence. It doesn't help that Becker is now a gangster and a black-marketeer, mixing with the wrong people. Gunther soon comes into contact with a US Intelligence officer and a US Military Policeman, who are running separate investigations into the captain's death. Gunther's investigation also brings him into contact with Viennese gangsters, prostitutes and familiar faces from his past, including war criminals on the Allied Most Wanted list....

At a total of 835 pages, this will take you some time to read but it is well worth it. If you have an interest in the Nazi regime, 1930's & 1940's history & politics and a desire to read three good well-written detective stories then this book is for you.

Highly recommended! ( )
2 vote obsessedwithbooks | May 16, 2008 |
Bernie Gunther is a wise-cracking detective struggling to get by in the ruins of Berlin and to keep his moral compass in the shadow of the Nazis. ( )
  RidgewayGirl | Feb 22, 2008 |
Just finished reading the final page of Berlin Noir, a collection of gritty crime and suspense comprising the books March Violets, The Pale Criminal and A German Requiem by Kerr. I was truly taken aback by the wealth of information presented and the ability of Kerr to pleasantly take the reader back in time with delicious accuracy, nuance and swagger. His ability to capture the zeitgeist of Germany from a distinctly German perspective is quite engrossing to the reader. Needless to say, I enjoyed all three books and will definitely seek out more of Kerr’s work in the very near future. Actually, I picked up Hitler’s Peace just a few hours ago. ( )
  BruderBane | May 27, 2007 |
Can I give this 5+ stars? His sense of place, before during and after WWII in Germany, is remarkable. Plus, it's good noir. ( )
  3.14 | Oct 11, 2006 |
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An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140231706, 0241962358

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