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Berlin detective Bernie Gunther bows out at last in the 14th and final book of the Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling series. With an introduction by Ian Rankin.
'One of the greatest anti-heroes ever written' LEE CHILD
'One of the greatest master story-tellers in English' ALAN FURST
Berlin, 1928, the dying days of the Weimar Republic shortly before Hitler and the Nazis came to power. It was a period of decadence and excess as Berliners - after the terrible slaughter of WWI and the hardships that followed - are enjoying their own version of Babylon. Bernie is a young detective working in Vice when he gets a summons from Bernard Weiss, Chief of Berlin's Criminal Police. He invites Bernie to join KIA - Criminal Inspection A - the supervisory body for all homicide investigation in Kripo. Bernie's first task is to investigate the Silesian Station killings - four prostitutes murdered in as many weeks. All of them have been hit over the head with a hammer and then scalped with a sharp knife.
Bernie hardly has time to acquaint himself with the case files before another prostitute is murdered. Until now, no one has shown much interest in these victims - there are plenty in Berlin who'd like the streets washed clean of such degenerates. But this time the girl's father runs Berlin's foremost criminal ring, and he's prepared to go to extreme lengths to find his daughter's killer.
Then a second series of murders begins - of crippled wartime veterans who beg in the city's streets. It seems that someone is determined to clean up Berlin of anyone less than perfect. The voice of Nazism is becoming a roar that threatens to drown out all others. But not Bernie Gunther's ...
At the start of bestseller Kerr's gripping 14th and final Bernie Gunther novel (after 2018's Greeks Bearing Gifts), a prequel, Bernie's skills as a vice cop earn him a place on the Berlin Murder Commission in the summer of 1928. In one of his first cases, Bernie collars a murderer within hours of the crime, but tougher is trying to identify and apprehend a serial killer, nicknamed Winnetou (after a character in a Karl May western), who has been scalping prostitutes. Then another serial killer, who writes taunting letters to the police signed Dr. Gnadenschuss, starts targeting the many maimed WWI veterans who struggle to survive on the streets of Berlin. Bernie has a hunch that the two killers are the same. This police procedural may lack the complex plotting of the best Gunther books, but Kerr (1956 2018) does a fine job of immersing the reader in the seamy side of Weimar Germany as Bernie crosses paths with such real-life folks as artist George Grosz and scriptwriter Thea von Harbou, the wife of filmmaker Fritz Lang. Fans will be sorry to see the last of the honest, wisecracking Bernie.