Monday, September 5, 2011

Crime Fiction on a Euro Pass: Germany

Next up on our Crime Fiction Europass vacation get-away is Germany. Browsing through various websites to see what is available--either by German authors or other authors using Germany as the backdrop--it would seem that the hands-down winner for German crime fiction is the Third Reich era. So many of the of the novels mentioned take place in Nazi Germany or involve spy thrillers during the World War II era. One of my favorite war-time movies, based on the novel by Ken Follett, is the Eye of the Needle. I have to admit that I picked it out to watch because I happen to be a Donald Sutherland fan. But I enjoyed the taut, suspenseful thriller more than I usually do. I'm not a big thriller fan, but this one grabbed me. As the book synopsis says (better than I could):

One enemy spy knows the secret to the Allies' greatest deception, a brilliant aristocrat and ruthless assassin - code name: "The Needle" - who holds the key to ultimate Nazi victory.
Only one person stands in his way: a lonely Englishwoman on an isolated island, who is beginning to love the killer who has mysteriously entered her life. All will come to a terrifying conclusion in Ken Follett's unsurpassed and unforgettable masterwork of suspense, intrigue, and the dangerous machinations of the human heart.

But as the focus of my stop in Germany, I'm going to highlight a book that I've decided just had to be added to the TBR pile--March Violets by Philip Kerr. This is Kerr's debut novel of a series of crime stories set in the Nazi-era.
According to the blurb: Scottish-born Kerr re-creates the period accurately and with verve; the novel reeks of the sordid decade that saw Hitler's rise to power. Bernhard Gunther is a hard-boiled Berlin detective who specializes in tracking down missing persons--mostly Jews. He is summoned by a wealthy industrialist to find the murderer of his daughter and son-in-law, killed during the robbery of a priceless diamond necklace. Gunther quickly is catapulted into a major political scandal involving Hitler's two main henchmen, Goering and Himmler. The search for clues takes Gunther to morgues overflowing with Nazi victims; raucous nightclubs; the Olympic games where Jesse Owens tramples the theory of Aryan racial superiority; the boudoir of a famous actress; and finally to the Dachau concentration camp. Fights with Gestapo agents, shoot-outs with adulterers, run-ins with a variety of criminals, and dead bodies in unexpected places keep readers guessing to the very end. Narrator Gunther is a spirited guide through the chaos of 1930s Berlin and, more important, a detective cast in the classic mold. I'm not usually a hard-boiled fan either, but this one intrigues me. I'll let you know what I think as soon as the library hold system serves it up.


Col (Col Reads) said...

I'm not a fan of hard-boiled mysteries either, but I agree the description sounds really interesting!

Kerrie said...

Philip Kerr books are a good choice Bev. Thanks for playing this week