Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Heard: "Pale Criminal" by Philip Kerr

Heard: Pale Criminal by Philip Kerr, 1990, downloaded from Overdrive and I won't bother to check the date on the audio version.

Narrated by the great and powerful John Lee.  Second in the Bernard Gunther series with a two year gap in into 1938 Berlin.

The dirty, rotten, stinking, filthy nazis (I will not capitalize the word)  have even more power now.  Bernie has partnered his P.I. business with one-eyed former cop Bruno Stahlecker.  Bernie digs into trouble and trouble finds Bernie.

Bernie is hired by rich publishing matron to find the man blackmailing her gay son with purloined, explicit love letters.  Bernie is also asked to rejoin Kripo (the investigative police service, as opposed to the dirty, rotten, stinking, filthy nazi gestapo).  Bernie investigates the love letters at a psychological hospital.  Bernie finds a suspect.  Bernie and Bruno takes turns staking out the suspect.  Bernie goes to tell the matron what he knows and is picked up by the gestapo who inform him Bruno has been murdered.  Bernie is sad.

Bernie is then pressured by Reinhard Heydrich to rejoin Kripo and investigate the ritualistic murders of several teen girls.  Bernie is a straight detective.  He does not like the traditional Kripo crime solving method and finding a Jew and beating a confession.  Bernie starts digging.

More things happen during our tour of 1938 Germany in the later summer and fall of 1938.  That's the point of the book anyway.  Kerr shows us what Germany turned into and the hypocritical and corrupt men who ran it.

The dirty, rotten, stinking, filthy nazis have consolidated power but are still sniping at each other to gain power and curry favor with the upper reaches of government.  International politics are always in the papers as Hitler pushes on the Seudetenland.  The girls' murders are kept quiet from the public. Scheming dirty, rotten, stinking, filthy nazis are murdering the girls in a push to play the Jews and have a pogrom in Berlin.  Kristalnacht happens even with Bernie figuring out the murderers and telling Heydrich.

1.  Gunther is not a modern character put back in 938. He does not have modern values.  He thinks gays are disgusting.  He has sympathy for Jews but does nothing to help them unless they are clients.  At one point he is trying to convince himself to stay out of things and says they brought things on themselves.  At first I thought he was believing that and he may be far away from doing so.
2.  This was from when, 1990?  How would Gunther's treatment of the gay bad guys be thought?  Would Kerr catch heat?  The gayness is incidental of the murder of girls but used against the scumbag since homosexuality was a concentration camp - murder - sentence.
3.  Gunther is a German Philip Marlowe.  He works alone and follows his own code and rules.  He wants justice but needs paid invoices.  He believes in the law even if law enforcement agencies do not.
4.  Kerr uses several real life nazis in the story.  The brief afterword is interesting with information the real life characters who were drummed out of the SS.
5.  I'm currently reading Useful enemies : John Demjanjuk and America's open-door policy for Nazi war criminals and the carry over is interesting.  I'm taking forever to finish the damn book.  It's interesting but also 621 pages.

1 comment:

George said...

I'm a fan of Philip Kerr's crime novels. Nice review!