Review: Metropolis – Philip Kerr

Series: Bernie Gunther 14

My version: Hardback
Genre: Historical Fiction Germany between the wars
First published: 2019
ISBN: 9781787473218
Pages: 392

From the cover:
Summer 1928. Berlin, a city where nothing is verboten.
In the night streets, political gangs wander in search of fights. Daylight reveals a beleaguered populace barely recovering from the postwar inflation, often Jobless, reeling from the reparations imposed by the victors.
At central police HQ, the Murder Commission has its hands full. A killer is on the taunting the cops. The press is having a field day.
This is what Bernie Gunther finds on his first day with the Murder Commission.
He’s been taken on because the people at the top have noticed him – they think he has the makings of a major detective. But not Just yet. Right now. he has to listen and learn,
Metropolis, completed just before Philip Kerr’s untimely death in 2018, is the capstone of a fourteen-book journey through the life of Kerr’s signature character, Bemie Gunther, a sardonic and wisecracking homicide detective caught up in an increasingly Nazified Berlin police department. In many ways, it is Bernie’s origin story and, as Kerr’s last novel, it is also, alas, his end.
Metropolis is also a tour of a city in chaos: of its seedy sideshows and sex clubs, of the underground gangs who run its rackets, and its bewildered citizens—the lost, the homeless, the abandoned. It is Berlin as it edges toward the new world order that Hitler will soon usher in. And Bernie? He’s a quick study and he’s learning a lot. Including, to his chagrin, that when push comes to shove, he isn’t much better than the gangsters in doing whatever he must to get what he wants.

To help with the appreciation of this book, I have put together a Pinterest board featuring pictures and links relating to some of the characters and places

Metropolis US, UK

Worth waiting for? Most absolutely, certainly, definitely. But bitter sweet. A fantastic Philip Kerr Bernie Gunther novel. But no more Bernie.

The questions that occurred to me while reading, revolved around just when Metropolis was actually written. Because it doesn’t fit the pattern of any of the recent books in the series, which while following the pattern of Bernie’s life continuing in narration time, also featured relevant incidents from his colourful past. This one, is totally set in his past, his very early past. 1928, if I remember right. There is nothing from ‘present day’ Bernie. The previous book had had him returned to Berlin after many years, and many previous books, away and involved in a new career. I’d venture that I wasn’t alone, after hearing of Philip’s tragic untimely death, and then the news there was one final book, that, dependent on how aware and prepared Philip was of his own mortality, that with this final book he might have decided to end Bernie’s story along with his own, as it were.
Metropolis doesn’t feel like it was the book he was working on at the time of his death. It is so hermetically sealed, with absolutely no reference to any part of Bernie’s story after the events of the book, it really doesn’t feel like it was written

We have to say goodbye to Bernie with Metropolis, but we have the brilliant memories of him left to us by Philip throughout the previous 13 wonderful books. I think we all need to have our own way of imagining how Bernie’s story ended, maybe that’s the best way of remembering him.

You can buy Metropolis from The Book Depository

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