Greeks Bearing Gifts: Bernie Gunther Thriller 13 by Philip Kerr
|Greeks Bearing Gifts: Bernie Gunther Thriller 13 by Philip Kerr|
|Category: Crime (Historical)|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: Although this is the 13th in a series of Bernie Gunther stories, I came to it without having read any of the others, and found myself utterly engrossed rather than wondering what on earth was going on!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 496||Date: April 2018|
|External links: Author's website|
Set in Germany in 1957, Greeks Bearing Gifts is a historical crime thriller with everything from dodgy Nazi past histories to insurance fraud. Bernie Gunther is a Berliner, who was a sarjeant during the second world war and now, in this novel, is working in the morgue of a hospital. He finds himself embroiled in a mystery, taking on a new role as an insurance claims investigator. The investigation takes him to Greece, and back into the dark times of the war. With layered plots and double-crossing left, right and centre, there's lots to keep you guessing throughout this story.
I think it says something for the strength of the story that I had no idea, as I read, that this was the 13th book in a series! When I came to the end I did think that it seemed a little unfinished in places, and that I wanted to know more about Gunther. Of course, on finding out that this was the penultimate in a long series, everything made a lot more sense, and I would like to go back and read more! There's a lot throughout the story about not just German history, but also Greek history, as well as links to Greek mythology too. It's well researched, and feels authentic.
Although it runs a little long the story does, generally, have a good pace to it, and I found it hard to put down. There's a lot of dialogue through the book, which was mostly good. I enjoy stories where you get to hear the characters talking a lot. And as for the thrills and spills, there's nothing really frightening that happens, but there were some tense moments where I found myself turning the pages a little faster than before!
I really liked the character of Garlopis, who ends up being a sort of sidekick for Gunther. Garlopis is very endearing, and I really enjoyed the parts of the story where he was around. Gunther himself is a very dry character, sometimes funny, always trying to escape his past, and perhaps atone for his country's sins. He is a survivor, and we're told that he is someone who is trying to be good. And yet, at the same time, he has the most dreadful opinion of women! The misogynistic views that tumble out of Bernie throughout the story did, very nearly, put me off finishing the book. In the end, I had to tell myself that it must be due to being a historical novel, and that Bernie Gunther was a man of a certain time and place. Yet it still made me uncomfortable, and so I think it's an important issue to highlight. Perhaps this is part of his character throughout the series, and of course detectives don't need to be (and often aren't) likeable characters, but it was still disturbing to read at times.
When you look past the misogyny, this is otherwise a good, and rather complicated crime story. Philip Kerr sadly died earlier this year, but apparently there is one more Bernie Gunther story to come that he was editing at the time of his death. I think I'm going to go back and start from the beginning of the series, to see how Bernie begins, before I come to the ending next year.
Further reading suggestion: You might also enjoy Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
You can read more book reviews or buy Greeks Bearing Gifts: Bernie Gunther Thriller 13 by Philip Kerr at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Greeks Bearing Gifts: Bernie Gunther Thriller 13 by Philip Kerr at Amazon.com.
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