In order to prove his innocence, he must find the real killer. What follows, full of mordant humour, pacy action and rich, three-dimensional characters, confirms what Kerr’s fans have long known: that he has few, if any, rivals to match him among modern thriller writers.
Greeks Bearing Gifts is the 13th in the series... Some of the dialogue is exposition-heavy, but the book is tremendously entertaining, lighter than some of the other novels but sometimes able to make your stomach lurch with a sudden insight into the barbarity with which the Nazis treated the Greek Jews, and your blood boil with a hint at the collusion of European politicians in Germany's wriggling out of paying due reparations. This is not the end of Bernie. Kerr managed to complete another Gunther novel during his final illness, and Tom Hanks has long been battling to bring the books to the big screen, so perhaps the novels will yet reach a much wider audience. We fans feel Kerr's death like a sucker punch; but Gunther has got out of trickier spots than this alive.
Bernie Gunther is a surprisingly appealing protagonist: a flawed, morally compromised policeman and private investigator trying to solve murder cases while surrounded by some of the worst mass murderers in history — his own Nazi bosses. Yet we still root for this melancholy, cynical gumshoe as he attempts to navigate a path of decency through the darkness of the Third Reich and its aftermath... At just over 500 pages, the book is too long — the earlier scenes set in Munich could be cut back. But Kerr skilfully weaves his detailed research into the narrative without sounding didactic or heavy-handed. Like its companion novels, the book is fast-paced, with vivid, sympathetic characters and evocative scenes... Gunther is firmly in the Chandleresque tradition of the hard-bitten, wisecracking gumshoe, never more so than when a beautiful woman such as Elli Panatoniou walks in... The flashes of humour are a welcome change in a dark backdrop.