Book # 11, in the Bernie Gunther Series
This series has brought us back and forth in time during and after the war and has told us in each one of its installment an exciting episode revolving around Gunther’s life. In this latest, we are 10 years after the WW11, the protagonist is pushing 60 and is now working under a false name as a concierge at the grand Hôtel du Saint- Jean-Cap- Ferrat on the French Riviera. All he wants is to live a peaceful life and forget his past. Of course Mr. Kerr will not let him stay idol and a new drama is set in motion to captivate us.
Most of the action takes place in hotels or private houses, with flashback to war time Germany. Blackmail and homosexuality are the main themes although the story also dabbles in espionage where more than one skeleton come out of closets. The mystery is told in the long winded narrative by Bernie Gunther and his voice is as personal as ever it feels he is telling his experience to you (the reader). As always we find real people with the fictional characters and the obligatory femme fatale. The plot is an intricate tale of treachery and counter treachery and shows once again that Mr. Kerr is still the master at misdirection…...It also captures the malaise and paranoia of post war.
The story meanders a lot and has tedious parts. I did not find this latest adventure to be as captivating as the previous ones but it still has interesting parts and with each flashback we learn more about Bernie’s past in East Prussia. As always historical events are mentioned and exploited: such as the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustoff by a Russian submarine and stories around British aristocrats spying for Russia.
Bernie’s adventures are better enjoyed knowing the recurring characters’ back story, so reading this series in sequence is highly recommended.
Bernie has not run out of steam yet and will return in “Prussian Blue” next year.
Although this latest may not have been my favourite I am still a huge fan of this author.