New York Times-bestselling author Philip Kerr treats readers to his beloved hero's origins, exploring Bernie Gunther's first weeks on Berlin's Murder Squad.
A portrait of Bernie Gunther in his twenties: He's young, but he's seen four bloody years of trench warfare. And he's not stupid. So when he receives a promotion and a ticket out of Vice squad, he knows he's not really leaving behind the criminal gangs, the perverse sex clubs, and the laundry list of human corruption. It's 1928 and Berlin is a city on the edge of chaos, where nothing is truly verboten. But soon a new wave of shockingly violent murders sweeps up society's most vulnerable, prostitutes and wounded ex-soldiers begging on the streets.
As Bernie Gunther sets out to make sense of multiple murders with different MOs in a city that knows no limits, he must face the fact that his own police HQ is not immune. The Nazi party has begun to inflitrate the Alex, Berlin's central office, just as the shakey Weimar government makes a last, desperate attempt to control a nation edging toward to the Third Reich.
It seems like the only escape for most Berliners is the theater and Bernie's no exception. As he gets deeper into the city's sordid underground network, he seeks comfort with a make-up artist who is every bit a match for his quick wit and increasingly sardonic view of the world. But even this space can't remain untouched, not with this pervasive feeling that everything is for sale in Berlin if you're man enough to kill for it.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Prolific thriller author Philip Kerr’s final book takes us into the dark heart of Weimar Berlin, where his much-adored character Bernie Gunther’s hard-boiled saga begins. Gunther’s a veteran of the Great War—and a young, but not naive, homicide squad rookie. Metropolis’ plot pits the untested detective against a reckless serial killer, letting Kerr craft a cinematic panorama of a mythic city grappling with modernity. There’s plenty for the late novelist’s fans to love, and we’re sure he’ll gain lots of new readers with this brilliant swan song.
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.
Sad, this is his last book.
I’ve read them all now. "Metropolis" sadly simply doesn’t measure up.
I’d like to think someone erred in trying to pull the book together after Phil Kerr's untimely death.