Phillip Kerr wrote 30 novels but his most famous creation was the Private Detective Bernie Gunther who first appeared in March Violets in 1989. Initially there were three novels in the Berlin Noir series before Gunther was put away. Kerr said that he didn’t want to write the same books for the rest of his career but whenever he went on book tours for his latest creation he was only asked about whether Bernie was coming back. There were 10 more Bernie novels before Kerr died in 2018 though he had finished one before before his early death and this is due for release in 2019.
March Violets opened the story in 1936, Bernie works as a Private Investigator in Nazi Berlin. He is an ex-policeman who specialises in missing people, a much called for skill at this point.
This is historical crime fiction set against a back drop of the rise to power of the Nazi’s, their reign and their demise.
Kerr became interested in Germany during his studies and was particularly fascinated with the Nazi period. He visited Berlin frequently and was a regular visitor whilst the wall remained in place. Having been to Germany before an after the wall came down I have to agree with him that it brought an atmosphere that doesn’t exist now, a fear. I think being able to experience the sensation of being in the city with the wall up does give you a direct historical and emotional link to Berlin in WWII and must inspire great writing.
The Berlin Noir series is extremely popular and I must say whilst researching and writing the blog I really think my husband would bloody love them!