Berlin Noir: March Violets, The Pale Criminal, A German Requiem

Berlin Noir: March Violets, The Pale Criminal, A German Requiem

by Philip Kerr

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Now in one volume—the first three novels in Philip Kerr’s New York Times bestselling historical mystery series starring hard-boiled detective Bernie Gunther...

“A Chandleresque knight errant caught in insane historical surroundings. Bernie walks down streets so mean that nobody can stay alive and remain truly clean.”—John Powers, Fresh Air (NPR)

Ex-policeman Bernie Gunther thought he'd seen everything on the streets of 1930s Berlin. But then he went freelance, and each case he tackled sucked him further into the grisly excesses of Nazi subculture. And even after the war, amidst the decayed, imperial splendour of Vienna, Bernie uncovered a legacy that made the wartime atrocities look lily-white in comparison...

This collection includes:

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781440657467
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/01/1994
Series: Bernie Gunther Series
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 848
Sales rank: 76,396
File size: 997 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Philip Kerr is the New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Bernie Gunther novels, two of which—Field Gray and The Lady from Zagreb—were finalists for the Edgar® Award for Best Novel. Kerr has also won several Shamus Awards and the British Crime Writers’ Association Ellis Peters Award for Historical Crime Fiction. As P. B. Kerr, he is the author of the much-loved young adult fantasy series Children of the Lamp.

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Berlin Noir 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Tigerpaw70 More than 1 year ago
This is a collection of the first three novels in the Bernhard Gunther series that were written between 1989 and 1991 and were published together in 1993 under the title "Berlin Noir". Detailed in it are the earlier adventures of Bernhard Gunther, a private detective who specialized in missing person cases. The scenes reflect the climate of pre and post-World War 11 Berlin. As for the stories, they highlight some of the horrors that began with the birth of National Socialism and end with the allied occupation and reconstruction. Book 1 "March Violets", Berlin 1936 When Gunther is retained by wealthy German industrialist Hermann Six to investigate the arson murder of his daughter and son in law and the theft of some priceless jewellery he finds himself in the middle of a major conspiracy involving highly placed Nazis. His investigation plunges him into Berlin's dark side with its noisy cabarets, its easy women and tough men, and eventually to Dachau concentration camp. There he finds himself both on the receiving and giving end of violence, violence the world has yet to learn of. He has become a pawn in a game where corruption and decadent behaviour are practiced at its highest level. Book 2 "The Pale Criminal", Berlin 1938 This is a time when the situation in Germany is escalating from bad to worse and P.I. Gunther is investigating a case of blackmail on behalf of his client Frau Lange. Part of his investigation has him undercover in a clinic where psychotherapy is practiced but things turn ugly when his partner is murdered and the alleged blackmailer commits suicide. To complicate things even further, Gunther is given an order he can't refuse, he is ordered back to Kripo by the SS general Heydrich to work on a serial murder case in which two SS officers are being fingered by public opinion. This is a highly explosive period in Berlin just prior to Kristallnacht. Book 3 "A German Requiem", Berlin 1947 This is a time when Germany is divided and Berlin is in a state of devastation, its people are doing their best to find food and shelter and rebuild their lives. Gunther recently released from a Russian prison is asked to investigate the murder of Edward Linden, an American Counterintelligence captain. An old acquaintance of his, Emil Becker has been arrested for the murder and may soon be convicted and put to death. Gunther strongly suspects Becker is being framed and with the clock ticking he must follow his strongest leads. The Russian Colonel Palkovich Poroshin, now in Vienna may have some important pieces to the puzzle but can Gunther really trust him. Deep into the investigation he draws the attention of a group of men who have their own secret agenda. An agenda that subsequently uncovers a nightmare landscape containing more death than he could ever have imagined.... The three novels are very interesting and captivating. What I found most fascinating is the historical setting; it brings us deep into the dark and chaotic period of Nazi-era Germany. Through the protagonist, we feel the hype and frenzy created by Hitler and the subsequent behaviour of the Nazi followers, we also experience the emotional letdown the German people felt post-war. Bernhard Gunther is portrayed as a person with an attitude who walked a fine line to stay alive. He was once an SS officer under the command of Heydrich, Himmler and Goering but transferred to the Russian front in order to dista
KenCady More than 1 year ago
My reviews are published with the individual volumes. I liked A German Requiem the best, but thought that March Violets was the weakest Gunther novel- I have now read them all. A Pale Criminal is, for me, a stain on the series as Bernie lets his inner homophobe out, something not seen after that.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If I had wanted a street map of Berlin, I would have bought a street map of Berlin. Other than "Noisy as two cats F-----g on a tin roof," the story contains every simile a man could possibly think up. And it could be in there, and I may have missed it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great addition to the hard boiled detective library. Kerr's detective is the classic wise cracking good guy loner up against classic evil, Nazi Germany. Highly recommend.
Bacaczar More than 1 year ago
Philip Kerr hit the right tone for the Nazi period, and after. The stories were all very poignant. I look forward to reading more of Mr. Kerr's works.
Forrest0 More than 1 year ago
Kerr serves up a hard-boiled world and wraps it in fine, detailed writing. The character of Bernie Gunther is one of the most memorable in detective fiction IMHO.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Berlin, 1937, 1940, and 1945-46. Bernie Gunther, a cynical ex-Berlin Kripo cop views the world from the perspective of his survival, knowlingly grinding out his existence despite the Nazi demons that weave in and out of his investigations. This trilogy of novellas follow Gunther investigations in finding missing persons through detailed view of pre-war and early WWII Berlin, and the gutted devastation of post-war Berlin and Vienna. With humorous observations, Gunther in the first person skewers the likes of Himmler, Heydrich, 'Fat Herman,' and those who endure them in silence, including himself. In three closely plotted procedurals, Gunther reveals much about 'How it could have happened?' I recommend this book highly.
charlie68 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked the setting 1930s Berlin and post war Vienna. A different dynamic from the average mystery or suspense fiction. I liked the trip through this era.
Crayne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I recently had my "hardboiled detective fiction"-deflowering with Raymond Chandler's 'Farewell, my lovely' and it left me hankering for more. I confess, I could have fired up my browser, clicked a few times and had ten more examples of the genre in my possession within the week, but I prefer to stumble upon my books rather that purposefully order them. And so it was with great pleasure that I bought Philip Kerr's Berlin Noir, containing not one but three prime examples. Not only that, but it also satisfied my other literary kink: alternate history and/or urban fantasy set in or around WWII. The combination sounds odd. I mean, the hardboiled detective immediately brings images of rainy American streets, dank alleyways and the ever-present saxophone soundtrack. You wouldn't immediately think: hey, this would work just fine if it were set in 1930s Germany. Or perhaps you would, but I didn't. The thing is, it doesn't just work, it soars. It confiscates a space shuttle and draws a swastika on the moon, so to speak. Kerr's protagonist Bernhard (Bernie) Gunther is as fallible as they come, a bleeding heart on the dark sliding incline of German society in the late thirties. He keeps his word, he has a weak spot for the ladies and he can't abide by injustice. All the trappings of your classic gumshoe and yet he still feels like a fresh take. Kerr then blends this classic and tragic antihero with very real figures in the history of the Third Reich. People like Arthur Nebe, Reinhard Heydrich, Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler. The plots he weaves kept me guessing for quite a while before I finally figured out whodunnit. As I said on FB while I was reading these three books in one: this needs to be a movie. And it needs to be a good one or so help me god.
kerns222 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Disturbing stuff, still thinking about it: titillation/repulsion, Nazis/Sam Spade, hopelessness/action. Revisionist WWII nostalgia?? You don't feel quite as dirty as after reading a James Ellroy, but you should!
susanamper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellently realized novels of life under the National Socialists. The first, March Violets, takes place in 1936, the Olympics are about to begin and Bernie Gunther is a policement investigating murders that embroil him in the nazi hierarchy. The second, Pale Criminal takes place in 1938 and the Nazis have firm control of the country. Gunther leaves the police force to avoid having to submit to nazi power and goes it alone. The third, A German Requiem is set in 1947 in ruined Berlin and Austria. Gunther is asked by a former colleague to save him from a murder charge. The writing is exceptional and the period details are wonderful. Just for the trivia alone I would recommend the books. But they also have finely drawn characters and plots that are twisty and fun to follow.
laphroaig on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Berlin Noir is, as its name suggests, self-consciously and unashamedly in the noir section of the crime genre. A collection of three novels, with two based in Nazi-era Berlin ("March Violets" and "The Pale Criminal") and one during the post-war allied administration, Kerr has the perfect background for his gritty crime novel: sex, corruption and death are common-place in this setting. It is exploited to its full, Kerr's tired but determined detective investigating a range of murders, bristling with twists and similes and with the Nazi regime or the nascent cold war providing a constant threat. At times Kerr's style comes close to caricature, but that does not detract from these gripping and enjoyable novels.
tomcannon45 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've long been a fan of Philip Kerr but in the Bernie Gunther series he excels against his own standards. Every time I finish one, I want more especially those that can fill the gaps left in Bernie's life
JayLivernois on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A good read for contextual purposes on Berlin in the 30s, however the prose is somewhat overdone verging on purple
cushlareads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
March Violets - haven't read the rest yet.March Violets is set in Berlin in 1936. My quick summary is "gritty". Bernie Gunther is an ex-policeman turned private investigator. He gets hired by Hermann Six, a prominent industrial magnate, to figure out who stole his daughter's diamond necklace, but really to find out who killed the daughter and his son-in-law in a fire. The plot is complicated, but very well done, and the detail about life in Nazi Germany is what really made this book stand out for me. There's murder, bodies, violent sex, animals getting hurt, and much more harrowing stuff that I don't want to give away. And a lot of the ominous feeling comes from the violence of the Nazis, as well as what actually happens. I gave it 4 stars, not more, because it is very violent and very masculine. Here is Bernie's description of his new secretary :" That morning she was wearing a dress of dark-green cotton with a fluted collar and cavalier cuffs of stiffened white lace. For a brief moment I fed myself on the fantasy that had me lifting her dress up and familiarizing myself with the curve of her buttocks and the depth of her sex."OK, whatever. And there are a lot of metaphors and one-liners, e.g. (about a prostitute): "Her breasts were like the rear ends of a pair of dray horses at the end of a long hard day. Maybe she still had a few clients, but I thought it was a better bet that I'd see a Jew at the front of a Nuremberg pork-butcher's queue." I liked them, but there were a few too many.
RidgewayGirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bernie Gunther is a wise-cracking detective struggling to get by in the ruins of Berlin and to keep his moral compass in the shadow of the Nazis.
BruderBane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Just finished reading the final page of Berlin Noir, a collection of gritty crime and suspense comprising the books March Violets, The Pale Criminal and A German Requiem by Kerr. I was truly taken aback by the wealth of information presented and the ability of Kerr to pleasantly take the reader back in time with delicious accuracy, nuance and swagger. His ability to capture the zeitgeist of Germany from a distinctly German perspective is quite engrossing to the reader. Needless to say, I enjoyed all three books and will definitely seek out more of Kerr¿s work in the very near future. Actually, I picked up Hitler¿s Peace just a few hours ago.
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ebooks18 More than 1 year ago
Bernie Gunther is such an interesting character and Berlin 1930's through 1940's adds a wonderful flavour to these police procedurals.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was very disappointed in March Violets.  I was expecting a real page-turner, based on other reviews. I had to make myself finish it. The gratuitous violence was upsetting and pointless...I knew the Nazis were evil and Dachau was a horrible place before I ever picked up the book.  No real mystery here, just one atrocity story after another.  Unfortunately, I got the three-volume one. I certainly won't bother reading #2 & 3.
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