Review: The One From The Other – Philip Kerr

Series: Bernie Gunther 4
My version: 
Post war
Quercus Books

From the cover:
Munich, 1949
Amid the chaos of defeat, Germany is home to all the backstabbing intrigue that prospers in the aftermath of war. A place where a private eye like Bernie Gunther can find a lot of not-quite-reputable work: cleaning up the Nazi past of well-to-do locals, abetting fugitives in the flight abroad, sorting out rival claims to stolen goods. It is work that fills Bernie with disgust – but fills his sorely depleted wallet.
Then a woman seeks him out. Her husband has disappeared. She’s not looking to get him back – he’s a wanted man who ran one of the most vicious concentration camps in Poland. She just wants confirmation he’s dead.
It seems a simple enough job. But in a post-war Germany, nothing is simple…

The first three in the series were good. This is better. It’s a really good look at one man, an articulate, cynical, realistic man, and his navigation of the perils the aftermath of the second world war presented to Germans, especially those who had, willingly or not, been part of the Nazi Party. Gunther is cynical, but keeps that down and the wise-cracks to a bearable minimum here. Those he does use, are born from desperation at the situation his leaders have left the ordinary person in the street, in. And those leaders are now scrambling to get away from bearing the responsibility for the war. Leaving that firmly with those why had no responsibility for it, and were just responsible for ensuring their family stayed alive.

There’s a lot to be interested in here, a lot to think about under way and – for me – a lot to follow up on. I hadn’t heard of the camp in Poland mentioned in the book (no real reason why I should have really), and it does go to show that away from the headlines of Dachau, Sobibor and Auschwitz and others, there were many, many more camps giving the Nazis full opportunity to let their bestial side take over and have, unfortunately, gone under the radar..

He is writing in the same area and era as David Downing and while I always thought DD would never be beat for creating the war-time (and after) atmosphere, I have to admit that I was really impressed by Philip Kerr’s narrative here. It’s effortless, never laboured and an absolute joy to read.

You can buy The One From The Other at (I think this version and maybe all the others are being re-released in paperback).

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