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Bernie Gunther in Smolensk

  • Apr 1, 2013
Rating:
+5
In this latest Bernie Gunther book, our hero is employed by a German committee investigating war crimes, and in this capacity he is sent to Smolensk in the German-occupied Russian territory to look into the reported deaths of thousands of Polish officers, killed in the Katyn forest by the NKVD. Smolensk is not a nice place to be, with a frigid Russian winter still hanging around, and frozen ground preventing exhuming any remains from the solid earth.

As usual, Bernie is his typical sarcastic self, verging on what the Nazis would consider treason merely for what he says. In addition, he seems to be caught in the middle of several Hitler assassination plots hatched by high ranking Prussian military men. To make matters even worse, murdered bodies appear, and Bernie, as the only one with real police experience in the area, is coopted to investigate.

The plot gets thicker and thicker, and more bodies (new ones, that is) keep turning up, and Bernie is looking for a suspect, when someone takes a shot at him that barely misses. There is a bit of a star-crossed love story here, but, as is usual for Bernie, it turns out badly.

Eventually, Bernie is arrested and a trial is instigated by the army commander in the area, who detests Bernie, to convict him of anything and get him sentenced to death. I will not reveal the deus ex machina that turns up to bring the book to an end, but I found it both amusing and satisfying. There can never be enough Bernie Gunther books; keep them coming!

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More A Man Without Breath (Bernie G... reviews
review by . April 01, 2013
In this latest Bernie Gunther book, our hero is employed by a German committee investigating war crimes, and in this capacity he is sent to Smolensk in the German-occupied Russian territory to look into the reported deaths of thousands of Polish officers, killed in the Katyn forest by the NKVD. Smolensk is not a nice place to be, with a frigid Russian winter still hanging around, and frozen ground preventing exhuming any remains from the solid earth.      As usual, Bernie is …
review by . April 01, 2013
In this latest Bernie Gunther book, our hero is employed by a German committee investigating war crimes, and in this capacity he is sent to Smolensk in the German-occupied Russian territory to look into the reported deaths of thousands of Polish officers, killed in the Katyn forest by the NKVD. Smolensk is not a nice place to be, with a frigid Russian winter still hanging around, and frozen ground preventing exhuming any remains from the solid earth.      As usual, Bernie is …
About the reviewer
Frank J. Konopka ()
Ranked #95
I'm a small town general practice attorney in the hard coal region of Pennsylvania. Books are my passion, andI read as many of them asI can. Being the President of the local library board for over … more
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Praise for A MAN WITHOUT BREATH
 
“Captivating . . . Kerr makes everything look easy, from blending history with a clever and intricate whodunit plot to powerful descriptions of cruelty.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“Kerr’s sketch of Goebbels dazzles. The author pulls the reader down into the dark underground of Der Führer’s rabbit hole of totalitarian horror . . . [A Man Without Breath] masterfully explores morality's shadowy gray edge.”—Kirkus
 
“This ninth Bernie Gunther tale (after Prague Fatale) focuses on two months of 1943, mixing real-life characters with fictional ones. Kerr’s historical knowledge and writing skills merge these elements seamlessly in a gripping story of murder, but it is Bernie who holds it all together even as he questions the absurdity of attempting normalcy during war. Mystery, historical fiction, and military history buffs will join existing Bernie fans in welcoming this latest installment in the series.”—Library Journal
 
Praise for Philip Kerr:

"Just as youth is wasted in the young, history is wasted on historians.  It ought to be the exclusive property of novelists--but only if they are as clever and knowledgeable as Philip Kerr."—Chicago Tribune

"A wily and unreliable narrator, Bernie may be forgiven for holding his cards so close to his chest as he tries to do the right thing in so many wrong places.  Shades ...
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