October 5, 2006

WELCOME BACK, BERNIE!:

Down the Mean Streets Of Post-Nazi Germany (OTTO PENZLER, October 4, 2006, NY Sun)

In 1989, a young British-born journalist living in London, Philip Kerr, performed a magic trick: He wrote the nearest pastiche to Raymond Chandler's literary style yet achieved, transcending the scores — no, hundreds — who had attempted it before him.

Even more remarkably, the setting was Nazi Germany in 1936, not exactly the place one would expect to read about a wise-cracking, self-deprecating private eye. Bernie Gunther made his debut in this pastiche, which was titled "March Violets." [...]

All three books were collected in "Berlin Noir", an essential volume for any aficionado of distinguished crime fiction. It didn't offer a new exploit for Gunther when it was issued in 1994, but it seemed the best one could hope for, as Mr. Kerr abandoned Berlin and his hero, writing more contemporary books in search of a wider audience.

Now the first new Gunther novel in 15 years has been published. In "The One From the Other", he's back, working in post-Nazi Munich, and there is plenty of work for a private investigator: finding missing people while helping others disappear. Former war criminals want to escape prosecution and Gunther knows how to get them out of the country. It may disgust him, but it enhances his meager bank account.

There may have been a 15-year-gap in Gunther's literary career, but Mr. Kerr hasn't forgotten how Chandler wrote, nor how he was able to fill those rather large shoes himself.


Mr. Kerr is exceptional, not least, because, like Robert Harris, he's politically-incorrect.


Posted by Orrin Judd at October 5, 2006 12:02 AM
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