- Tapa blanda: 416 páginas
- Editor: Quercus; Edición: UK airports ed (27 de octubre de 2011)
- Idioma: Inglés
- ISBN-10: 1849164169
- ISBN-13: 978-1849164160
- Valoración media de los clientes: 5.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas Ver todas las opiniones (1 opinión de cliente)
- Clasificación en los más vendidos de Amazon: nº242.045 en Libros en idiomas extranjeros (Ver el Top 100 en Libros en idiomas extranjeros)
The Prague Fatale: A Bernie Gunther Novel (Inglés) Tapa blanda – 27 oct 2011
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Descripción del producto
'a splendid locked room mystery told with customary wit ... insight and compassion. A rattling good read' Scotsman. (Scotsman)
'as brilliant as ever' Sun. (Sun)
'Kerr is a good, suspenseful writer' The Big Issue. (Big Issue)
'Kerr's novels are fast moving, tough talking affairs and Gunther is a perfectly cynical guide to the sordid world Kerr uncovers in his novels' The Sunday Business Post Magazine. (Business Post Magazine)
'Mr Kerr just gets better and better' Sunday Telegraph. (Sunday Telegraph)
'Prague Fatale is, quite simply, an excellent novel, evocative and compelling, intelligent and thrilling' Euro Crime. (Euro Crime)
'Prague Fatale remains as absorbing as its companions in the series' Independent. (Independent)
Reseña del editor
Philip Kerr's sequence of historical thrillers featuring private detective Bernie Gunther forms a body of work comparable to the great series of the two masters of the genre, Len Deighton and John le Carre. The Berlin Noir Trilogy quickly established Kerr and Gunther as the perfect combination of writer, character, setting and genre. These gritty, noir thrillers, narrated in Gunther's wry, sardonic voice, range all over Europe and beyond. They span a 20-year period from the mid-30s to the mid-50s, covering the build up to World War 2, the war itself and finally its bitter aftermath. With impeccable research that is accurate in every detail yet never interferes with narrative pace, Philip Kerr has created an epic series of thrillers that deserve all the praise that has been heaped upon them. Prague Fatale is Bernie Gunther's eighth outing. Set in Prague in 1942, it delivers all the fast-paced and quick-witted action that we have come to expect from Philip Kerr. It is an outstanding thriller by a writer at the top of his game.Ver Descripción del producto
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It's 1941 and Bernie has returned to Berlin from the Eastern Front. He's relieved to have left the East, but he's not happy and is unlikely ever to be happy again. He's seen too much, done too much. As a member of the SD, the intelligence arm of the SS, he witnessed "special actions," in which Jews--men, women and children--were murdered en masse, and with he personally executed Russian POWs suspected of being agents for the Soviet NKVD intelligence service.
Now back as a detective with Berlin's Kriminalpolizei ("Kripo"), Bernie is investigating the suspicious death of a railway worker who'd come to Berlin from the Netherlands. That's his official investigation. His unofficial investigation begins when he rescues a young woman from an attack on the menacing, blacked-out streets of the capital. If there's one thing Bernie can't resist, it's a beautiful damsel in distress, and this bar girl has landed herself in some real trouble.
A man with no sympathy for the Nazi cause or the Nazis he's met, Bernie has always tried to keep away from powers that be in the Third Reich. But, not for the first time, he is collared for a special assignment by Reinhard Heydrich, head of both the Gestapo and the Kripo, and newly-appointed Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia (the current Czech Republic). Heydrich is not only Bernie's ultimate boss, he is also known as "Hitler's Hangman" and "the man with the iron heart." Heydrich tells Bernie that there is a conspiracy to murder him and he wants Bernie to become part of Heydrich's detail and find the would-be murderer.
In the countryside near Prague, at Heydrich's palatial home (stolen from a Jewish family), Bernie has to rub shoulders with a large collection of Nazi bigwigs, there ostensibly to celebrate Heydrich's appointment as Reichsprotektor. They are every bit as unsavory as Bernie knew they would be, and Bernie hopes to finish his assignment and get out of Prague as soon as possible. His hopes are dashed when, one morning, the body of Heydrich's new adjutant is found shot twice in his locked bedroom.
Heydrich puts Bernie in charge of the investigation. It's a puzzler. How was the man killed in a locked room? Is there something in this new adjutant's past that led to his murder? Is there a thread that connects the adjutant's murder, the attempts to murder Heydrich, Heydrich's search for a Czech spy within Germany's upper echelons and maybe even Bernie's investigations back in Berlin? On a more personal note, what price will Bernie have to pay for subjecting Heydrich's high-powered Nazi thugs to questioning, Gunther-smartmouth-style?
Author Philip Kerr walks a fine line with the Bernie Gunther series. The books are written in a wisecracking style, and we laugh at Bernie's observations about the absurdities of life in the Third Reich. But, over the years of his experience with the Nazis, he never kids himself about what he learns of the depths of their depravity or makes excuses about the complicity of all Germans, himself included, in the regime's crimes.
The previous books in the Bernie Gunther series are described at the end of this review, and you'll see that this novel and its predecessor are the first to go into detail about Bernie's World War II experiences, including his service in the SS. Kerr manages to keep Bernie a deeply flawed but sympathetic character despite that. In Bernie, we see a man in a country gone mad, where conventional morality has been subverted to a genocidally racist philosophy. He is faced with horrible choices and his moral dilemmas force us to ask ourselves what we would do in Bernie's situation.
Kerr is clearly well-versed in the history of Nazi Germany. He places Bernie in the midst of real characters and events, and weaves together fact and fiction to make an entirely believable story. Kerr doesn't use his depth of knowledge in a show-offish way but, instead, he subtly imbues every scene with the language, sights, sounds, tastes and smells of the time and place, so that the overall effect is that we live in that world with Bernie.
Although this is the eighth book in the Bernie Gunther series, it can easily be read on its own, without having read other books in the series. In some ways, it's a bit of a departure from the other books in the series, because of the country-house, locked-room aspect that is reminiscent of a Golden Age mystery (Agatha Christie is even referenced). It's also a much more straightforward narrative than some of the recent books, which have tended to tell stories set in two or more time periods and places. But what hasn't changed is what has always made this series so compelling: powerful characterization and storytelling, and a masterful mix of fact and fiction.
ABOUT REINHARD HEYDRICH
Even powerful figures in the SS and the Nazi Party were afraid of Reinhard Heydrich, and with reason. By all accounts, he was relentless and heartless. Together with his boss, Heinrich Himmler, and Herrmann Göring, he planned the murder of most members of the SS's rival, the SA, and its head, Ernst Röhm, in what is called the Night of Long Knives. He used the Gestapo to punish anyone who might be a threat to Nazism or the SS.
Heydrich chaired the infamous Wannsee Conference, at which the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem was elaborated. He organized many of the key elements of the Holocaust program from its earliest days, including Kristallnacht, special killing operations on the Eastern Front, forced transports of Jews to ghettos and to death camps. If you would like to read more about Heydrich, I recommend Robert Gerwarth's Hitler's Hangman: The Life of Heydrich.
OTHER BOOKS IN THE BERNIE GUNTHER SERIES
Here is a brief description of each of the other books in the Bernie Gunther series, in publication order:
March Violets (Bernie Gunther). Set in 1936, after Bernie has been effectively forced out of the Kripo by the Nazi takeover and is acting as a private investigator.
The Pale Criminal (Bernie Gunther). Set in 1938, Bernie has a run-in with Heydrich, who dragoons Bernie back into the Kripo to investigate the murders of teenage girls.
A German Requiem (Bernie Gunther). The timeframe jumps all the way forward to 1946 and the smoking rubble of a defeated and chaotic Berlin. After spending the war in the SS and as a Russian POW, Bernie is again a PI, trying to find the killer of an American GI.
The first three books in the Bernie Gunther series are also available in an omnibus volume titled Berlin Noir: March Violets; The Pale Criminal; A German Requiem. After writing the first three books in the series, Kerr took a 15-year hiatus, writing standalone thrillers, before resuming the Bernie Gunther story.
The One from the Other: A Bernie Gunther Novel. Set in 1949, Bernie is married, but his wife is in a mental hospital after suffering a breakdown. Bernie is managing his father-in-law's failing hotel located practically next door to the site of the Dachau death camp. But Bernie returns to the PI business, working to track down a client's missing war-criminal husband. This introduces Bernie to the sinister operations that help Nazis escape justice by spiriting them out of the country and, generally, to South America.
A Quiet Flame: A Novel (Bernie Gunther). This novel tells two stories. One is set in 1950 when Bernie, framed as a war criminal, becomes part of a secret transport of Nazis to Juan Perón's Argentina. There, Bernie is forced by the local police to help them solve the gruesome murder of a young woman. The case resembles two unsolved murders Bernie investigated in 1932, when he was a detective with the Kripo. There are many flashbacks to Bernie in 1932.
If the Dead Rise Not: A Bernie Gunther Novel (Bernie Gunther Novels). In another dual-narrative novel, we go back to 1934 Berlin, where Bernie is a house detective at the famed Adlon. In the later narrative, Bernie is in 1954 Havana, where he becomes involved with some of the US mobsters doing business there.
Field Gray: A Bernie Gunther Novel. The first book in the series to describe Bernie's WW2 experiences in detail. The book begins where the preceding book left off: 1954 Havana. Bernie is taken captive on a US naval vessel and is spirited back to Europe and made a pawn in the deadly espionage games of the Cold War powers. The story revisits Bernie's time in an SS "police battalion" during the war, his being a Soviet POW in nightmarish camps, imprisoned again in France and then coerced into becoming a field agent for both the French and US intelligence services. A complex story.
Gunther is invited by Heydrich to a social gathering at Heydrich's elegantly appointed villa near Prague. Many top SS men are there. The guests enjoy luxury unknown now in Berlin, where the mobilizing of 3 million men on the Eastern front has put virtually everything in short supply. It's not just a social gathering, though: Heydrich has another agenda.
And Gunther is suddenly pressed into service when Heydrich's aide is shot to death. Gunther gets carte blanche to interview everyone there, regardless of their rank o scary reputation, in search of the killer.
Gunther's not alone in Prague. He's brought with him a bar girl from Berlin whom he recently saved from being assaulted in an incident with links to two murders and possible espionage overtones. She's smart and sexy and Gunther is falling for her. But as trouble develops in Prague, he realizes she's in danger.
The book smacks of an Agatha Christie novel, with the detective interviewing all the house guests, finding much to hide and connections between them going back decades, plus the obligatory consideration of whether the butler did it.
But no Agatha Christie novel features both detective and victim tormented by what they've recently seen in the East, where, following the invasion of the Soviet Union, genocide is under way.
And Hercule Poirot never had to find a murderer in a country house where nearly everyone already is a murderer.
I've enjoyed all the Gunther novels. Getting back to his roots as an honest cop navigating his career and his principles through the sewer of Nazi corruption is a delight for readers after his more complicated sojourns in Peron's Argentina, Batista's Cuba and Cold War West Germany. This story is right in Kerr's wheelhouse. And he hits it out of the park.
Late one night, Bernie is called to the scene when someone finds the mangled remains of a man who had been hit by a train. The victim is identified as a thirty-nine year old railway worker from the Netherlands. This incident is just one piece of a larger puzzle involving espionage, murder, and treason. In addition, Heydrich invites Bernie and a large contingent of friends to his palatial country home outside Prague. There, the guests enjoy delicious food and drink and relax in their comfortable living quarters. Unfortunately, this idyll is marred when one of the visitors is mysteriously slain in a room that was locked from the inside. Heydrich orders Bernie, who is renowned for his ability to solve difficult cases, to investigate the crime and bring the perpetrator to justice.
All of this occurs while the noose is relentlessly tightening around the necks of Jews both in and out of Germany. Bernie, who candidly expresses his outrage even to Heydrich hiimself, claims not to care whether he lives or dies. He detests hypocritical, corrupt, and depraved bullies who live luxuriously while ordinary Germans go hungry and enemies of the state are rounded up, tortured, and executed. The author skillfully incorporates historical events and individuals into this well-constructed and absorbing work of fiction that has elements of humor, romance, and tragedy. Kerr is an outstanding descriptive writer ("the red Nazi flags that were everywhere looked ... like blood dripping down the buildings") whose imaginative use of language enhances the novel immeasurably. "Prague Fatale" has more than its share of profanity, slang (vitamin B = important connections), and scenes of violence that reflect the harshness and brutality of the times. As the book draws to a close, Bernie hears the word Auschwitz ("a new kind of concentration camp") for the first time; much later, he will find out the nature of the atrocities that were committed there.
With a genuflect in the direction of Agatha Christie, author Kerr lays down an intriguing and thoroughly entertaining classic manor house mystery albeit within the Nazi era context. The characters are well and sharply drawn and Bernie Gunther has never been wittier, better at his craft or more human. Kerr's sense of Germany and Europe during the Nazi years is keen and wholly credible. Very few false notes in any of this really excellent period crime piece. Highly recommended.
In brief, abandoning the chronology of the initial books (Bernie from pre-war inception to post-war malaise) Kerr re-installs the dour, slightly dilapidated, world-weary and terminally cynical detective in early wartime Germany and then into the "Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia", the former Czechoslovakia. Early on in Berlin, Bernie chances upon something that seems what it is not and, by the usual improbable chain of interconnected circumstances, ends up in Prague working for SS Prince of the Realm Heydrich. Following the (acknowledged) lead of Agatha Christie (the justly famed "closed-room" murder in "Roger Ackroyd"), an SS aide de camp is murdered. A cross section of SS luminaries, one of whom is suspected in the case and also suspected as a spy for the Czech resistance are in residence at the secluded country manor (a psychotic's "Downton Abby")...who done it?
As before, all the SS higher-ups are improbably urbane, eloquent, vaguely resentful of their colleagues, cynically pragmatic, ideologically removed from Nazi claptrap and engaged in barely concealed double-dealings and sordid affairs of one sort or another. The sophisticated and slightly detached commentary even extends to SS lowlives such as the expert torturer, Sgt. Soppa. Leaving aside the invented dialogue which is more akin to early post-war Hollywood caricatures of Nazi officers (cultural affectations, sartorial excellence, keen and probing intelligence), Kerr has done immense research into the period and it shows.
While having a certain degree of intelligence; a great deal of cunning; an pragmatic inclination; and a lust for power, it seems incredible that Heydrich would indulge Bernie's provocations and challenging insults to the extent suggested herein. Based on recent comprehensive histories of Himmler (e.g. Longerich's book) and Heydrich ("Hitler's Hangman"), it seems fantastic that Bernie's head would have rested so smugly, insolently and satisfyingly situated on his neck in real life. Its also encouraging that Bernie's moral equivocation regarding the fate of the Jews and other unfortunates at the hands of his Nazi colleagues has finally and firmly been secured on the side of the oppressed. Kerr compensates to some extent by extending a sense of moral ambiguity on the "actions" in the "East" to many Nazi satraps: unfortunately, there is little or nothing in the actual historical literature to support that move. Finally, and to give away only a minor element of the plot, the postulated reason for Heydrich's (fortunate) turn for the worse and eventual demise is pure baloney: Himmler and Heydrich (according to the authoritative Longerich biography) were ideological intimates and close allies.
So, "Praque Fatale" is certainly entertaining. Its not quite to the standard of the first 3 books, especially when the absence of witty reparté and Chandler-like metaphors are factored into consideration. But its a vast improvement on the 3 immediate predecessors. Its not a good introduction to the series but its not a bad one, either. In short, its an encouraging development for Bernie Gunther fans and good enough to encourage the purchase of the next case.