Philip. If the Dead Rise Not: A Bernie Gunther Novel. Marian
Wood: Putnam. March 2010. c.448p. ISBN 978-0-399-15615-1. $26.95.
As in A Quiet Flame, British author Kerr sets the action of his sixth Bernie Gunther series in two distinct epochs–prewar Berlin (1934) and Havana 20 years later. Forced off the Berlin police force because of his allegiance to the old Weimar Republic, Bernie is now the Adlon Hotel’s house detective. As the Nazis consolidate power, the survival of the city’s Jews grows more precarious. Bernie, one-fourth Jewish himself, gets embroiled in a conflict between corrupt businessmen who aim to profit from the 1936 Olympiad and a beautiful American (and Jewish) journalist, Noreen Charalambides, who hopes to derail U.S. participation. By the time the dust settles, Bernie is locked in a stalemate with American mobster Max Reles. In 1954, Bernie is living in Havana and runs across Noreen, now a successful author living in Hemingway’s Finca Vigía, where she consorts with communists. To Bernie’s surprise, Noreen’s daughter is palling around with Max Reles, now in cahoots with Meyer Lansky and other mobsters. Soon, Bernie will have one more murder to solve if he hopes to survive and save those dear to him. VERDICT As rich in historical atmosphere as any Alan Furst thriller and leavened by the cutting wit of Bernie’s cynicism, this outstanding roman noir will delight readers of detective fiction and historical thrillers alike.