Book Nook: The Lady from Zagreb, by Philip Kerr

Jul 30, 2015

The crime fiction department used to be a mystery to me. I didn't read many crime novels until I started interviewing authors on this program back in 1994. Ever since then I have been making up for lost time. I read two or three crime novels a week. And I do interview some of the authors. But most of those books are just for me. My guilty pleasures.

Books in this genre tend to be fast reads. If the author has really gotten you rolling with the story you might read the book in one sitting. I have many favorites and I could not narrow them down too easily. But if I had to pick say my dozen favorites that are in series form I would definitely include Philip Kerr's delightful books which feature the Berlin detective Bernie Gunther.

These books shift back and forth through time and they might seem formulaic because they do have recurring elements. Our narrator Bernie usually makes wise cracks. He has an eye for the ladies. He's trying to deal with the Nazi regime. It could be Nazis on the rise, the Nazis in power, or nasty Nazis fleeing prosecution for their war crimes. Moral ambiguity is the central theme in Bernie's existence.

In the latest one "The Lady from Zagreb" we find Bernie navigating uneasily through the very bowels of the Nazi machine. Bernie is asked to do a small favor for the Nazi Minister of Propaganda. This dark obligation engenders intrigue and a few homicides. Bernie is a homicide cop at heart-he is always trying to figure out whodunnit? The femme fatale in this one is an actress who has caught the eye of the Propaganda Minister. Bernie takes a side trip to Nazi-occupied Croatia. His colleagues on this trip are some of the nastiest psychopaths he has ever crossed Lugers with. Then there's a series of noir intrigues that are executed in supposedly neutral Switzerland.

I have read every book in this series and somehow they just keep getting better. And Philip Kerr is also one of my favorite interview subjects. Enjoy!