Tuesday, September 4, 2018

March Violets by Philip Kerr

The year is 1936 and the place is Berlin, Germany.  Bernhard Gunther, known as Bernie, is a private detective.  He became one after leaving the police force in support of his friends who were pushed out by political actions.  One of his biggest areas of work is finding missing persons; many are found to have been shipped to concentration camps or picked up by the Gestapo and killed. 

Bernie is called to the home of a multimillionaire.  The man's daughter and son-in-law have been murdered and a safe in their house containing an expensive diamond necklace has been burgled.  The man wants Bernie to run a parallel investigation to that of the police as he doesn't want to give the police all the information he has as he thinks it could have adverse financial impact on his business. 

Soon Bernie is up to his neck weaving his way between political bigwigs, the police, members of the criminal underclass and men from the Gestapo.  He meets a beautiful movie star and several women who have lost their jobs due to the new emphasis on women staying at home and being supported by their men.  It is a delicate task working through all the horrendous things going on in Berlin in that era but crime never takes a break.  Can Bernie find the murderer and the jewels?

March Violets is the first book in Kerr's successful crime series featuring Bernie Gunther.  There are currently fourteen books in the series.  Readers will enjoy the noir feel of the book and have room to compare German noir with that of Hollywood.  Bernie is an interesting character and his ability to maneuver between all the warring factions in Berlin is fascinating to watch.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

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