Wednesday, 9 October 2013

One Man's Opinion: MARCH VIOLETS by PHILIP KERR





March Violets (US) is the first part of the trilogy Berlin Noir (US)and I enjoyed it so much that there’s no doubt
I’ll complete my reading in the near future.

Bernie Gunther is the central character and first-person narrator. As a fan of the hard-boiled detective, this man had everything I could have asked for and he can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with any others
I’ve really enjoyed in the past.

In order to make a private eye stand out, creating a wonderful character isn’t enough. There also needs to be a gripping plot that’s going to test them to their limits (as humans and as investigators) and a setting that will provide more than just a backdrop; Philip Kerr has both of these in Spades (couldn’t resist).

Selecting Hitler’s Germany in 1936 at the time of the Olympic Games is a master-stroke. Kerr clearly did a lot of research on the subject and would seem to know it inside out. Better still, he manages to add flavours and nuances of this research without intruding into the narrative too much with the proverbial crowbar, or at least he does that for the majority of the time.

In the process of the investigation, Gunther gets to roll his sleeves up and rubs shoulders with the high and the low in German society of the time. His wisecracks are sharp and witty, he can’t resist a beautiful woman, he’s hard but not indestructible and he has a heart that we hear pumping from time to time. He’ll even get to visit
Dachau and come out with a line that might help to illustrate his ability with the understatement:

‘Dachau was no place to be a Jew.’

It wasn’t such a good place for a private investigator either as it turns out.

Thoroughly enjoyable and I’ll be back for seconds and thirds.

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