Tag: 1936 Summer Olympics

March Violets by Philip Kerr

Posted March 24, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Pulp / 0 Comments

March Violets by Philip KerrTitle: March Violets (Goodreads)
Author: Philip Kerr
Series: Bernard Gunther #1
Published: Penguin, 1989
Pages: 256
Genres: Pulp
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Bernie Gunther investigates the murder of the daughter of one of German’s wealthiest industrialists while the 1936 Summer Olympics play out in Berlin. Gunther is an ex-policeman that thought he had seen everything, but becoming a freelance Private Investigator has found him being sucked into the horrible excesses of Nazi subculture.

This is classic hard-boiled/noir fiction; it has the hard-hitting detective, a fast-paced plot and the everyday violence you come to expect. But this time that everyday violence comes in the forms of anti-Semitisms and the Nazi regime. The Nazi German backdrop is a great location for noir novel and makes for a whole cast of strong and interesting characters.

While the plot does need some polish, as it’s not a very strong crime plot, the interference from the Kripo and Gestapo did a great job of masking the flaws. March Violets reminds me a lot of Fatherland by Robert Harris with the concept but for me March Violets concept was much better just not as well executed.

The over used metaphors and attempts at humour really took away from the richly developed backdrop and while at times it did drag on a little, I really found myself enjoying this book. I’m not sure how well Philip Kerr researched this novel but the way he portrayed Nazi Germany felt right in my mind; the strong police state trying to play nice for the Olympic games and then the inability or unwillingness of ordinary Germans to try stop the crimes or injustices, while spending most of their time worrying about the coming war.

March Violets is the first in the Berlin Noir series and based on this book, I’m looking forward to reading the next two books. Not sure if I will continue the series after that but I will start with them. Bernie Gunther is a great protagonist with his hard hitting ways that seem like they will land him in a KZ (Konzentrationslager or Concentration camp). I’m glad I picked this book up, while there are some weak points, like I said before, they seem to be easily missed with everything else happening in this book. Well worth reading for pulp fans, it’s a fresh take on this genre.