Philip Kerr was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and read Law at university. Having learned nothing as an undergraduate lawyer, he stayed on as postgraduate and read Law and Philosophy, most of this in German, which was when and where he first became interested in German 20th century history and, in particular, the Nazis.
Following university he worked as a copywriter at a number of advertising agencies, including Saatchi & Saatchi, during which time he wrote no advertising slogans of any note. He spent most of his time in advertising researching an idea he'd had for a novel about a Berlin-based policeman, in 1936. And following several trips to Germany — and a great deal of walking around mean streets of Berlin — his first novel, MARCH VIOLETS, was published in 1989 and introduced the world to Bernie Gunther. Two more novels quickly followed: THE PALE CRIMINAL (1990) and A GERMAN REQUIEM (1991), and when in 1993 these first three novels were republished as a one-volume trilogy, it gave name to a new genre in fiction — BERLIN NOIR.
Says Kerr: "I loved Berlin before the wall came down; I'm pretty fond of the place now, but back then it was perhaps the most atmospheric city on earth. Having a dark, not to say black sense of humour myself, it's always been somewhere I feel very comfortable."
Thinking he might like to write something else, he did — and published a host of other books for both adults and young readers before returning to Bernie Gunther after a gap of 16 years with the 2007 release of THE ONE FROM THE OTHER.
I never intended to leave such a large gap between book three and book four. A lot of other stuff just got in the way, and I feel kind of lucky that people are still as interested in this guy as I am. If anything I'm more interested in him now than I was back in the day."
Six more Bernie Gunther novels followed: A QUIET FLAME (2008), IF THE DEAD RISE NOT (2009), FIELD GRAY (2010), PRAGUE FATALE (2011), A MAN WITHOUT BREATH (2013), and THE LADY FROM ZAGREB (2015). And book number 11, THE OTHER SIDE OF SILENCE, has just been released in March 2016.
I don't know how long I can keep doing them. I'll probably write one too many, but I don't feel that's happened yet."
Meanwhile, in the midst of keeping fans of Bernie Gunther around the world happy and satisfied, the ever prolific Kerr continued to produce non Bernie books, including the seven-book bestselling Children of the Lamp series for young readers and a newer thriller series featuring English soccer coach Scott Manson.