Philip. The One from the Other: A Bernie Gunther Novel. Marian
Wood: Putnam. Sept. 2006. c.400p. ISBN 0-399-15299-7. $26.95.
Fifteen years after his last
Bernie Gunther thriller (A German Requiem), Kerr turns
his Berlin Noir trilogy into a quartet. In 1949, Bernie closes
down his deranged wife’s
failing hotel in Berlin and returns to Munich. Drawing on his
experience as an ex-cop involuntarily
absorbed into the SS during World War II—a past that will
dog his heels—he goes into business as a private detective.
His first three cases involve missing persons, including a
Nazi guilty of numerous atrocities. To track the man down,
Bernie has to immerse himself in a world he’d hoped to
leave behind, that of the "Old
Comrades” who help Nazis flee Germany. But dangerous
as it is, the case is not what it seems, and Bernie soon finds
himself in another man's shoes, locked in a
desperate struggle to save his own life. Bernie’s
wicked wit is a delight, the plot is gripping, and the historical
settings are masterfully developed. Although Kerr sometimes
overdoes his descriptions of characters (wildly
inventive similes abound), his dazzling touch
will sweep readers away. A profound sense of moral introspection
underlies the whole. Highly recommended for all public libraries.