Monday, 7 November 2011

Prague Fatale by Philip Kerr

I've just finished Prague Fatale by Philip Kerr. I believe this is the eighth book in his Bernie Gunther series, although it's only the third one I've read, following If the Dead Rise Not and Field Grey. I had read a couple of his earlier novels back in the 1990s, namely Gridiron and The Second Angel, both of which could be described as high-tech thrillers not a million miles from that pioneered by Michael Crichton.

The Gunther series however is mainly set in 1930s and 1940s Germany and features Berlin Cop Bernie Gunther and his struggles to solve crime while avoiding pandering to the excesses of Nazi Germany. The two previous books jumped around in time a little between 1930s Germany and 1950s Cuba.

Prague Fatale is a lot more focused and is set mainly in 1941 in Berlin and Prague. Gunther is back from "the east" and is investigating the murder of a Dutch worker. He gets sidetracked when he has to rescue a lady who is attacked while delivering a mysterious letter in the middle of the blackout. Gunther is trying to work out what connection she has, if any, to a spy ring when he gets called away to Prague at the behest of Reinhard Heydrich where the Nazi top brass are staying at Heydrich's house.

While in Prague one of Heydrich's adjutants is found dead in a locked room with bullet woulds to his body but the shell casings in the hall. Gunther must solve the murder and is told to treat everyone as a suspect regardless of their rank or affiliation to the Nazi party, a task he is uniquely suited for as he detests the party.

Of course there is more to the investigation than meets the eye and Gunther soon realises that the murder may be connected to a hunt for a traitor who is supplying secrets to the Czech resistance.

The Gunther novels are beginning to turn into a favourite read of mine. I still have the five earlier ones to read while waiting for the next one. Recommended.