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Book Nook: Prussian Blue, by Philip Kerr


People will ask me; "what was your favorite author interview?" or "what is your favorite book?" I cannot answer those questions. When it comes to crime novels I have many favorite writers. If I felt obligated to admit which writers I think are at the very top of their game in that genre right now I would name Philip Kerr along with a few others.

Kerr's latest novel "Prussian Blue" features his noir detective Bernie Gunther. This is the 12th book in this series.  I'm pleased to report that "Prussian Blue" is also the best Bernie Gunther book so far.

I would never describe these books as formulaic but Kerr does use a fabulous formula in the way that he sets each book up. We can track Bernie across time. One book might be set in 1956. The next one could take place in 1943. Or 1937. We never know where Bernie might go. Then from that initial time point Bernie will take us back through extended flashbacks to another time entirely.

We could be flashing back to Bernie's days as a police detective in Berlin during the 1930's. Or Kerr might take us back to Bernie's wartime service in WWI or WWII. We might see Bernie after WWII when he was a prisoner in a Soviet POW camp.

In "Prussian Blue" we find Bernie is hiding out on the French Riviera. It is the 1950's and he's living under an assumed name. Early in the story he encounters someone who knew him during the last war. The man is now a high ranking spy for East Germany and he recognizes Bernie. This chance meeting leads to Bernie's extensive flashbacks of a time during that war when he was looking for a murderer who had killed someone at Adolph Hitler's vacation home.

When I compile my list of favorite books from 2017 "Prussian Blue" will be on it.

The Book Nook on WYSO is made possible by five local library systems in southwest Ohio:  the Greene County Public Library,  Washington-Centerville Public Library,  Clark County Public LibraryDayton Metro Library, and Wright Memorial Public Library.

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Vick Mickunas introduced the Book Nook author interview program for WYSO in 1994. Over the years he has produced more than 1500 interviews with writers, musicians, poets, politicians, and celebrities. Listen to the Book Nook with Vick Mickunas for intimate conversations about books with the writers who create them. Vick Mickunas reviews books for the Dayton Daily News and the Springfield News Sun.