A Quiet Flame

2008 ~ Bernie Gunther Book 5

After being falsely fingered as a war criminal, Bernie Gunther—the tough, fast-talking detective and ex-Berlin policeman forced into the horrors of World War II—is en route to Buenos Aires, courtesy of ODESSA. It's 1950, and like the Nazis whose company he has always despised, Bernie has been promised a new life and a clean passport by the Peron government.

But Bernie doesn't have the luxury of settling into his new home and lying low. He is soon pressured by the local police into taking on a case in which a girl has turned up gruesomely mutilated, and another in which the daughter of a wealthy German banker has gone missing. Both seem to connect to a long-unsolved case Bernie worked on back in Berlin in 1932. The similarities are not so far removed from that earlier crime, and the cases might indeed be linked: after all, the scum of the earth has been washing up on Argentine shores—state-licensed murderers and torturers—so why couldn't a serial killer be among them?

Philip Kerr on A QUIET FLAME: "I daresay there will be many Argentine people who might get upset by what's in my novel. And they should remember that it is only a novel. However, it does also seem to me now that it is an inevitable corollary of having had thousands of SS war criminals in your country that other people such as myself should speculate as to what they might have got up to while they were there. We can say that each country had its tame Nazis, but this was nothing on the scale of the numbers that were in Argentina. When Israeli agents kidnapped Eichmann from Argentina, the official government line was that he wasn't in the country at all. Nor was Mengele."

Critical Praise

"[A QUIET FLAME] is the series' crowning achievement to date, and, quite possibly, the book Kerr has been working toward for two decades." ~ Los Angeles Times

"The Bernie Gunther novels are first-class, as stylish as Chandler and as emotionally resonant as the best of Ross Macdonald. A QUIET FLAME is a strong, haunting entry in the series." ~ George Pelecanos

"Kerr cleverly and plausibly grafts history onto a fast-paced thriller plot." ~ Publishers Weekly

Honors and Awards


Kirkus Reviews
Open Letters Monthly
CBC News
Levin at Large
A Common Reader
Euro Crime
Wilkes County News-Reporter

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