Philip KERR
ARRSE Rating
5 Mushroom Heads
This is the first Philip Kerr book I have read and so I did not know anything of Bernie Gunther, however reading the posts in the thread "what book are you reading" it appears that these series of books are very popular, after reading this book I can see why. Sadly this is the last book in the series and indeed the last story to be written by Philip Kerr, (however it has come to my attention that Mr Kerr submitted a manuscript to his publishers shortly before his death so we will have to wait to see what if anything becomes of that.)as he tragically passed away a few weeks ago,I wonder how many novels were left unwritten by this author? I have a strong feeling he will be sadly missed by his followers,

So onto the review. Bernie starts off not as Bernie but under a false name he required after the Second World War Christof Ganz. He is working in a Munich Hospital as a Mortuary attendent, looking after the dead, Bernie, sorry Chritof actually enjoys his work, he talks to the corpses they dont talk back, its a job that suits him, the year is 1957 only 12 years since the war ended have passed and Bernie is still fighting his demons from the past.

One night a victim of an unexploded bomb is brought into the mortuary, he looks rather worse for wear and even his poor mother wouldnt recognise him. This starts a chain of events that lead to Bernie been dragged into something he would rather have not. The Police officer who is tasked with identifying the corpse is as corrupt as they come and he has plans for poor Christof Ganz.

Bernie refuses this police officers advances but the officer has something on him, he recognises Christof and confronts him, calling him Bernie. Christof has no option, he must go along with the officers plans to steal a rather nice amount of money from a prominent member of the community .

From this crime Bernie seeks the help of an old friend a lawyer Max Merten who Bernie knew when he was a policeman in Berlin. After squaring everything away nicely Max tells Bernie of a job thats going which just might suite him and which will pay a lot more than he currently gets working in the mortuary. What is this job? Well its working for one of West Germanys biggest insurance companies MUNICH RE as an Insurance Adjuster. After a short interview Bernie gets the job.

Now Bernie's experience as a police detective soon saves his new employers a small fortune when he uncovers a life insurance fraud, as a reward he is given a pay rise and a company car, well the car was another adjusters who was currently sick. Bernie has to take over this mans job and finds himself in Greece investigating a claim made for a sunken boat.

Bernie meets a very likeable chap in RE Munichs Greek offices Mr Achilles Garlopis, who luckily enough can speak very good German and who fills Christof Ganz in on how to behave in Greece owing to the fact he is German.

So a simple sunken boat claim turns into murder, a few murders actually. Different characters are introduced as the story moves along at great pace. These characters, well a few of them were actual real persons from history which I confess to not knowing untill I read the authors notes at the end of the book. This made the whole book even better. Mr Kerr had a great gift for throwing in historical facts into the story ie, events during the war, the forming of the EEC when Germany, France, Holland, Luxembourg and Italy signed The Treaty of Rome, my how that as grown and changed somewhat! And more besides.

The sunken boat's owner is interviewed and Bernie finds holes in his story, however to keep him sweet he tells the owner that he is happy to pay an interim sum and that head office will be getting his report in due course, stalling tactics that seem to work.

I dont want to spoil the story for followers of this series the holes in the boat owner's story are just the tip of the iceberg, not that there are icebergs in The Mediteranian Sea!

This was a very good read from page one to the very last. And well worth the five Mr Mushroom Heads.

RIP Philip Kerr the world of literature will miss you.

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Half way through at the moment - we have a considered Gunter leading us through a great story.
Gout Man
Gout Man
Hope you enjoy it as much as I did, have you read other books from this series?