'One of the greatest anti-heroes ever written' LEE CHILD
Berlin, March 1943. The mood in Germany is bleak after their stunning defeat at Stalingrad. Private Investigator Bernie Gunther is at work in the German War Crimes Bureau - weary, cynical but well aware of the value of truth in a world where that's now a rarity.
When human remains are found deep in the Katyn Forest, Bernie is sent to investigate. Rumour has it that this mass grave is full of Polish officers murdered by the Russians. For Josef Goebbels, proof of Russian involvement is sure to destroy the Western Alliance, giving Germany a chance to reverse its devastating losses. But supposing the truth is far more damaging to the German cause?
It's Bernie Gunther's job to give Goebbels what he needs. But when there's nothing left for Gunther to lose, the compulsion to speak the truth becomes ever stronger...
Set in the spring of 1943, Kerr's captivating ninth Bernie Gunther novel (after 2011's Prague Fatale) takes Gunther now attached to the Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau from Berlin to Smolensk, to investigate mass graves of Polish officers discovered in the nearby Katyn forest. Josef Goebbels, seeking a propaganda coup after Germany's Stalingrad defeat, is keen to pin the atrocity on the Soviets. The tormented honest cop also gets on the trail of a killer targeting German soldiers, even as he finds himself in an anomalous moral position ("a situation in which you can have an army corporal hanged for the rape and murder of a Russian peasant girl in one village that's only a few miles from another village where an SS special action group has just murdered twenty-five thousand men, women and children"). Kerr makes everything look easy, from blending history with a clever and intricate whodunit plot to powerful descriptions of cruelty.