Bernie Gunther is the name that Philip Kerr gave his series of hard-boiled crime fiction novels. The books followed the exploits of Bernie Gunther, a detective with a penchant for finding missing people.
Order of Bernie Gunther Series
|1||March Violets||1989||Description / Buy|
|2||The Pale Criminal||1990||Description / Buy|
|3||A German Requiem||1991||Description / Buy|
|4||The One from the Other||2006||Description / Buy|
|5||A Quiet Flame||2008||Description / Buy|
|6||Field Gray||2010||Description / Buy|
|7||If The Dead Rise Not||2010||Description / Buy|
|8||Prague Fatale||2011||Description / Buy|
|9||A Man Without Breath||2013||Description / Buy|
|10||The Lady from Zagreb||2015||Description / Buy|
|11||The Other Side of Silence||2016||Description / Buy|
|12||Prussian Blue||2017||Description / Buy|
|13||Greeks Bearing Gifts||2018||Description / Buy|
|14||Metropolis||2019||Description / Buy|
When readers first meet the protagonist in March Violets, the first novel in the series, Bernie has just been hired by a wealthy industrialist to find the man who killed his daughter and stole a priceless necklace.
Missing people are nothing new to Bernie. However, most of his cases have always revolved around the Jewish community. By dipping his toes into his new client’s business, Bernie is drawn into a scandal that involves Hitler’s main henchmen, a scandal that could claim his life and his sanity.
The Bernie Gunther novels are historical literature. The first few stories that Philip Kerr tells are actually set in Berlin before the Second World War. Kerr paints a vivid picture of the tension that was rife at the time, this as Hitler’s party began to oppress the Jewish populace even as Germany struggled to keep its atrocities hidden.
Gunther has to walk a very fine line. His sense of justice keeps driving him to seek out the truth. But, like everyone else in Berlin at the time, he also knows that any act that sets him apart as a dissenting voice could rob him of his freedom, possibly even his life.
Over time, as Hitler’s paranoia drives Germany headlong into a brutal conflict, readers follow Bernie as his role evolves. He is drawn into the war, eventually emerging at the end of WWII, significantly changed by his time as an SS operative and a prisoner of war.
But his determination to seek Justice and Truth continues to burn bright. Wherever he goes, murderers and criminals wait, and it always falls on the private detective’s shoulders to right wrongs.
These novels lean heavily into the historical goings on of WWII. Bernie Gunther’s actions are shaped by the political and social occurrences unfolding before him, both during the war and after.
Bernie was born out of Philip Kerr’s passionate interest in Berlin. When he worked as a copywriter for various ad agencies, the author took several trips to Germany. Kerr had always loved Berlin, particularly before the wall came down.
Something about the dark mood and the forlorn atmosphere fascinated him, and he knew that the city would make the perfect setting for a crime fiction noir novel.
Bernie Gunther Awards
Field Gray, Prussian Blue, and The Lady from Zagreb were nominated for Edgar Allan Poe Awards. The Lady of Zagreb also received a Macavity Award nomination in 2016.
If the Dead Rise won the RBA Prize (Crime Writing) and the Ellis Peters Historical Crime Award.
Best Bernie Gunther Books
These novels have been commended for being taut, atmospheric, and educational, with some of the best books in the series including:
Field Gray: Bernie Gunther was a soldier, a police officer in Berlin and then a private detective. Then he was framed and that forced him to flee.
His security work in 1954 in Havana was hardly exciting but it allowed him to survive. The cynical detective was determined to stay out of the reach of his enemies. He did not expect the US Navy to pick him up during a random boat trip.
He certainly didn’t think they would imprison him. But now his past is being laid bare for all to see and the CIA has taken a renewed interest in what they think might be a Nazi War Criminal.
The Lady from Zagreb: Bernie Gunther is a likable but self-effacing homicide detective working in Berlin. Bernie hates the Nazis. But Joseph Goebbels is forcing him to do the Nazi political machine a favor.
Bernie must find and then convince Dalia Dresner, a young actress, to leave Switzerland for Germany so that she can star in a Propaganda film. But Dalia won’t corporate until her father, a potentially ruthless killer, is found.
Other Book Series You May Like
You may also like the “Gregor Reinhardt” Series by Luke McCallin. Gregor Reinhardt is a military intelligence officer in WWII who is haunted by the things he did on the battlefield. Gregor is tasked with maneuvering the military and political agendas around him as he attempts to solve the mysteries and murders that come his way.
Another good series is the “Hangman’s Daughter” Series by Oliver Potzsch. Jakob Kuisl is an Alpine Village hangman in Germany in the 1600s. He works alongside his daughter Magdalena and the son of the town’s physician to solve the superstition-ridden mysteries in his community.
What Is The Next Book in The Bernie Gunther Series?
There doesn't seem to be an upcoming book in The Bernie Gunther Series. The newest book is Metropolis and was released on April, 4th 2019.