Saturday, August 11, 2012
"Prague Fatale", by Philip Kerr
“Prague Fatale” is as absorbing as its other companions in the series. The previous novels covered a varied time period right up to the 1950’s and were staged in many countries including South America, Cuba and the US. This time we start off in 1941 deep into WW11 action with Bernie now under the command of Reinhard Heydrich, Reichsprotector of Bohemia.
After leaving the horrors of the Eastern Front the smart-mouthed, cynical and stubborn Bernie Gunther returns to Berlin to regain his old position at Kripo. The RAF is targeting his beloved city nightly: the blackouts, the destruction and food rationing are playing havoc with day to day life. Bernie’s first case is to investigate the suspicious violent death of a Dutch railway worker. There is always an intriguing sub-plot Bernie is a master at multitasking hence he also finds himself in the middle of a rape attempt. Wouldn’t you know it! The victim Arianne is a real beauty and she soon has Bernie under her spell. She turns out to be more trouble than our protagonist suspects…..
When Reinhard Heydrich orders him to spend the weekend at his country house with senor SS and SD figures Bernie puts everything on hold and goes with Arianne to Prague. Things get hectic when one of Heydrich’s aides-de-camp is found murdered in his locked room. Bernie is ordered to investigate and his no nonsense, no bull style quickly raises the ire of the Nazi brass. Trouble should have been Bernie’s middle name. Most of the action takes place at Heydrich’s estate, in Arianne’s hotel room and in the terrifying police HQ in Prague.
Prague Fatale” is a fast paced tale with an endlessly explosive atmosphere, an excellent and captivating novel. Like the others it is written in a sarcastic style with a twist of dark humour, Bernie is always portrayed as a deeply flawed but sympathetic protagonist. His first person narration goes a long way in creating the ambience of the time. All the supporting characters are equally well developed and play an intricate part in the story.
This novel is a wonderful blend of fact and fiction that can be enjoyed as a standalone or in sequel to the others.