The One From The Other by Philip Kerr
I had not read anything by this author before, but this book was highly recommended to me by a good-looking man in a charity shop. Unfortunately, our taste in literature is not similar. This is the fourth book where the main protagonist is Bernie Gunther. Maybe I should have started at the beginning of the series, because I found The One From The Other by Philip Kerr confusing and very hard work. It may be of interest to those interested in WWII mysteries, but I cannot recommend it as I did not enjoy this book.
Bernie Gunther is the ideal narrator for Philip Kerr’s bleak tale of the dirty deals made by victors and vanquished alike in post-war Germany. Having learned that there’s no way to distinguish ‘the one from the other’, the cynical P.I. has the moral clarity to see through the deceit and hypocrisy of both friend and foe.
Munich, 1949: Amid the chaos of defeat, it’s home to all the backstabbing intrigue that prospers in the aftermath of war. A place where a private eye can find a lot of not-quite-reputable work: cleaning up the Nazi past of well-to-do locals, abetting fugitives in the flight abroad, sorting out rival claims to stolen goods. It’s work that fills Bernie with disgust – but it also fills his sorely depleted wallet. Then a woman seeks him out. Her husband has disappeared. She’s not looking to get him back – he’s a wanted man who ran one of the most vicious concentration camps in Poland. She just wants confirmation that he’s dead.
For most novelists, the city where the action takes place is a backdrop or a stage set, nothing more than scenery. But the Berlin of Philip Kerr’s stories is a character in the books – a personality as complex and troubled as his private-investigator protagonist. ‘When I started writing I was after the character of the Berliner rather than the history of Berlin,’ says Kerr. ‘Berlin people have always been awkward-squad Germans, which is probably why I admire them. Hitler didn’t like them at all, and Berliners are the same now as then – they haven’t changed.’