The back cover:-
“Bernhard Gunther is a private eye, specialising in missing persons. And in Hitler’s Berlin, he’s never short of work…
Winter 1936. A man and his wife have been shot dead in their bed. The woman’s father, a millionaire industrialist, wants justice – and the priceless diamonds that disappeared along with his daughter’s life. As Bernie follows the trail into a cesspit that is Nazi Germany, he’s forced to confront a horrifying conspiracy. One that takes him to the very heart of government, and eventually, to Dachau…
The first in the iconic Berlin Noir series, March Violets takes readers to the rotten heart of Nazi Berlin, and introduces a private eye in the great tradition of Hammett and Chandler”
My review:- I wrote the K blog for my A-Z crime fiction series about Philip Kerr and reading about his subject matter I just thought my husband would love it. I had March Violets on the shelf in preparation for the blog. When I spoke to my husband about it, explained the story to him, he told me that someone at his old job had recommended them to him years ago. Suddenly he wanted to read it. But so did I. I won. Well, he has a day job.
Within the first chapter I absolutely had to agree, this book is in the great tradition of Hammett and Chandler, Gunther is very much in the image of Philip Marlowe. And yet it didn’t put me off, he wasn’t a copy, it just read that he was of that time and of that profession – being a private eye in the 1930’s. That said, Gunther lives and works in Nazi Berlin.
Bernie Gunther is a private eye, a former police man, or ‘bull’, he left because he didn’t like the way things were going. Now he is a hotel detective and works out of his own office. It’s the mid 30’s in Germany and Berlin is just about to host the Olympics. Banned books are suddenly back in the shops so the tourists aren’t alerted to how bad things are. Bernie is employed by Herr Six, a millionaire industrialist, who’s daughter has just been murdered along with her husband. Bernie is tasked to track down a Cartier diamond necklace stolen from the safe at the house before it was burnt down leaving only charred clues
During the course of the investigation Bernie comes across a few beatings and kills a few men himself, is interrogated by the Gestapo and finds himself in Dachau. He even sees Jessie Owens run at the Olympics.
I really enjoyed it! I think it required a bit more knowledge about Nazi Berlin than I had to be honest but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment. The characters were great and the story was fabulous. Of course I worked it out long before the end (only because I always do!) but Kerr still knocked the stuffing out of me with the closing chapters. Bernie Gunther is a great detective character and whilst he walks in the footsteps of Philip Marlowe I genuinely think there is more to him than that. The history that is woven through the story is completely fascinating and so authentic. I understand that Kerr spent a lot of time in Berlin before the wall fell and describes that time as a direct link to the past. That air of fear and danger leaks from the pages.
I’m a girl who likes high quality crime fiction and this definitely ticked all the boxes. A really excellent read. Amazing!