The Pale Criminal

1990 ~ Bernie Gunther Book 2

It is September 1938. In a sweltering heat wave, the German people anxiously await the outcome of the Munich conference, wondering if the Führer will plunge Europe into another war.

Private investigator Bernhard Gunther, formerly of Kripo—the Berlin criminal police—is hired by a rich widow to find out who is blackmailing her, an investigation in which he finds himself exploring the crankier side of modern German medicine and psychotherapy. Meanwhile, a brutal serial killer stalks the streets of Berlin, and Kripo, embarrassed at having been caught framing an innocent Jew for the murders, is not above using a little blackmail to obtain Gunther's racially unbiased services to catch the real culprit. Boldly asking for the temporary rank of Kommissar, Gunther finds that a murder hunt for a perverted criminal soon escalates beyond all his predictions.

THE PALE CRIMINAL is Philip Kerr's second novel. Hard-hitting, fast-paced, and unfailingly witty, it is a powerful exploration of the occult side of Nazism and a skillful evocation of the social tensions that pervaded prewar Berlin.

Critical Praise

"Blends high-powered storytelling with a surprisingly rich piece of historical re-creation" ~ The Independent

"Kerr makes his star turns—Heydrich, Himmler, et al—eerily believable, doesn't cheat with hindsight, but lets time and place control his story." ~ The Times of London

"Powerful period flavour; a gruff, subversive hero; Kerr delivers the goods" ~ The Literary Review

"Complex intrigue allows space for brilliantly provoking political asides and insights" ~ The Times of London

"The second, and perhaps finest, of the Bernie Gunther novels sees him restored to the Kripo to catch a serial killer of blonde girls. Might the sadistic and crazy Gauleiter of Franconia, Julius Streicher, be the guilty man? And why does the developing plot appear to implicate Himmler himself? Written with bravado, invention and terrific verve, it has an irresistible freshness." ~ Allan Massie

"Striking Vignettes of the infamous German leaders, a superb tour of Berlin on the edge of an abyss, and a cynical, dashing leading man" ~ St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Part private-eye tale and part police procedural, THE PALE CRIMINAL pulls the strands of its politically informed story together in a finale that satisfies both detective story convention and historical truth." ~ The Wall Street Journal


Kirkus Reviews
Crime Scraps
Brothers Judd

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