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No one writes crime noir like Philip Kerr. Atmospheric as ever.

bernie guntherWorld weary, cynical, and battered, with a soft spot for a femme fatale, a chequered past and an almost buried urge to do the right thing. That’s Bernie Gunther, hero of what is now No.11 in this atmospheric series of detective noir novels.

The former Berlin detective is keeping a low profile in post-war Europe, working under a false name as a concierge in a flash hotel on the French Riviera.

He plays bridge, drinks and misses his wife, who has left him to return to Berlin. So bored and dispirited at the start that he considers suicide, Gunther is soon right in the middle of an international cesspit.

He is hired to be the middle man when an old enemy of his blackmails famous British author W. Somerset Maugham over some dangerous photos.

But the stakes rapidly climb when it becomes all about spies right at the heart of Britain’s establishment.

Before the end there are shocks, betrayals and vicious double-crosses, and even a hint of a broken heart. Just as there should be when there’s a beautiful, mysterious, dangerous woman involved.

The Gunther novels could be read as stand-alone, but are best read from the start of the series. They aren’t written in chronological order, but his past is always relevant, and the more you know, the more impact each episode has.

This review was first published in the Herald Sun’s Weekend magazine.The book is published in April, 2016

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