Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Pale Criminal

The Pale Criminal by Philip Kerr

The Pale Criminal is the second book in Kerr's Berlin Noir trilogy that he wrote back in the late '80s and early '90s. The trilogy features Bernie Gunther, a former cop who now makes a living as a private detective in Germany in the late 1930s. After writing these first three books, Kerr changed direction and showed his range by writing several stand-alone novels in the genres of science fiction, historical fiction, and thriller. In 2006 he returned to his beginnings and has since written four more books featuring Gunther.

Young girls are going missing and later turning up dead and brutalized in Berlin. None of the victims have been Jewish and all of them fit the Aryan stereotype tauted by Hitler's regime as the master race. Bernie Gunther, is forced back into working for the German police by the SS because the case surrounding the missing girls seems to be leading nowhere.

Gunther is an intriguing character. He's crass, politically incorrect, and has his vices. But underlying those characteristics is a man who will take any steps necessary in order to see that the guilty are punished, whether they're a Nazi or a Jew, and that the innocent are protected regardless of who they are as well.

The plot is gritty and at times a little slow in unfolding. But it does an excellent job of creating the type of atmosphere I would imagine existed in Germany at that time in history. I enjoyed it but would not recommend it to those of a sensitive nature.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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