Tag Archives: crime fiction

Book review – ‘The Lady From Zagreb’ by Philip Kerr

The Lady From ZagrebSummer 1942. When Bernie Gunther is ordered to speak at an international police conference, an old acquaintance has a favour to ask. Little does Bernie suspect what this simple surveillance task will provoke . . .

One year later, resurfacing from the hell of the Eastern Front, a superior gives him another task that seems straightforward: locating the father of Dalia Dresner, the rising star of German cinema. Bernie accepts the job. Not that he has much choice – the superior is Goebbels himself.

But Dresner’s father hails from Yugoslavia, a country so riven by sectarian horrors that even Bernie’s stomach is turned. Yet even with monsters at home and abroad, one thing alone drives him on from Berlin to Zagreb to Zurich: Bernie Gunther has fallen in love.

‘The Lady From Zagreb’ is the tenth in a series of novels by Philip Kerr about German detective Bernie Gunther. These novels have well-constructed plots and are a pleasure to read for anyone who is a fan of detective novels. What makes them unique, however, is the historical setting. Bernie is a detective in Germany during the Second World War and the story gives us a different perspective on the conflict – from the point of view of a German who does not support the Nazis but has to try to survive to the end of the war. Disillusioned and cynical he often hides his feelings with a defensive blanket of sarcasm and dry humour, yet this detective is intelligent and persuasive with a belief in truth, justice and honour which is at odds with Nazi Germany.

Mr Kerr’s knowledge of Germany during the war years is extensive, and he expertly weaves the plot of his novel into the historical timeline – an international criminal conference in 1942 held at the villa where the ‘Final Solution’ to the Jewish question was decided; harrowing descriptions of the brutality of war in Yugoslavia; the Swiss plan to blow up key mountain passes if Germany tried to invade; these are just a few of the historic details which bring this novel to life. The author also expertly weaves real historical characters into ‘The Lady From Zagreb’, from Walter Schellenberg to Goebbels, Kurt Waldheim to Paul Meyer-Schwerendbach. Some of these names are familiar, others less so, but together they give this novel a real feel for time and place both descriptively and historically.

‘The Lady From Zagreb’ is an atmospheric novel which will draw a complex mix of emotions from the reader – anger, horror, sympathy, surprise, empathy to name just a few. It is a novel which will keep you turning the pages as you tread with Bernie Gunther the treacherous path between obedience, honour and survival.

In this novel Mr Kerr has expertly woven together the murder of a man by being struck over the head with a bust of Hitler, a missing priest and a mysterious body in a lake. Add to that a twist in the tale to equal any good detective story and you have a book which will appeal to anyone who loves the intricacies of a good crime story as well as historical fiction. I heartily recommend ‘The Lady From Zagreb’, and all of Mr Kerr’s novels about the cynical idealist Bernie Gunther.

‘The Lady From Zagreb’ can be found on Amazon

Philip Kerr’s website

More of my book reviews can be found here

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Book Review – ‘The Royalist’ and ‘The Protector’ by S J Deas

Unusually, I am recommending two books for you to read this month.

The Royalist‘The Royalist’ is the first book about William Falkland by S. J. Deas, set during the English Civil War. The main character, William Falkland, fought for the king but was captured and, as the novel opens, he is in prison awaiting execution. Falkland is led out, presumably to his death, but instead he has a surprising meeting with Oliver Cromwell who wants him to investigate some suspicious deaths in an army camp. To do what Cromwell wants is the only way that Falkland can save his own life, and return to his family.

‘The Royalist’ is a real page-turner, with many plot twists which keep you guessing to the very end. Are the deaths suicides, or something more sinister? What is the reason for Cromwell calling on a royalist to investigate, rather than one of his own men? Falkland finds the answers Cromwell wants (no spoilers here!) and is free to return to his family.

The Protector‘The Protector’ continues the story of William Falkland which began in ‘The Royalist’. Still searching for his family, Falkland is once more called upon by Cromwell, this time to investigate the disappearance of a woman – the sister of the renowned John Milton. Once again the author creates a compelling mystery. Why would someone kidnap Milton’s sister? Is it to silence the writer, or for some other reason? What happened to Ann’s husband? What secrets are hidden in a ruined manor house in Lincolnshire? Deas masterfully weaves a detective story with a picture of life during the English Civil War. Rather than a straight history, details of the war are revealed through conversations amongst the characters, as part of the plot rather than a telling of facts. Deas also conjures the feelings of insecurity, threat, suspense and suspicion which were rife in England at the time as friends, neighbours and families chose sides and fought for what they believed was right.

These two books about William Falkland are thoroughly enjoyable historical mysteries. The characters are well-rounded and totally believable. Falkland is a sympathetic hero, Milton is a complex character who draws out conflicting emotions in Falkland (and the reader!), Miss Cain is a resourceful woman who ably assists in the investigations, and the initially simple Warbeck turns out to be a more complex character than first imagined.

I thoroughly enjoyed the history and mystery in these two books, and hope that there will be more novels about William Falkland in the future.

I heartily recommend both books to you.

Mr Deas website can be found here

The Royalist can be found on Amazon

The Protector can be found on Amazon

You can find more of my Book Reviews here

Experiment in social media

I’m trying a new experiment in social media – tweeting a ‘real-time-crime’ story live as it happens. 

The story starts with a murder tonight at 9.30 (UK time) and ends with a real event on a real date early in September. 

It’s a challenge to get the characters and tell the whole story in 140 character bites.  Do let me know what you think! 

You can read the story at www.twitter.com/InspectorNash You don’t need a Twitter account to follow the story!

Countdown to Twitter crime

Not long now until Inspector Nash gets his first case.

If you know anyone in Swindon or Wootton Bassett (now there’s a hint as to where the first action will take place!) please let them know about this project so that they can take a look at Nash’s first entries either here or on the Inspectors Twitter account

Criminal investigation updates on Twitter

I will be Tweeting an exciting new story live ‘as it happens’ starting 28th August! 

This is ‘real time crime’ where Inspector Nash of the Swindon Police will be making his case notes on Twitter rather than in his usual notebook.

As an introduction to the project please take a look here or at the Inspectors Twitter account

Please follow Inspector Nash as he makes his investigations.