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Berlin Noir: March Violets; The Pale Criminal; A German Requiem (Bernie Gunther #1-3)

4.23  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,971 Ratings  ·  385 Reviews
Now published in one paperback volume, these three mysteries are exciting and insightful looks at life inside Nazi Germany -- richer and more readable than most histories of the period. We first meet ex-policeman Bernie Gunther in 1936, in March Violets (a term of derision which original Nazis used to describe late converts.) The Olympic Games are about to start; some of B ...more
Paperback, 836 pages
Published 1993 by Penguin
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Artemis Slipknot
Apr 30, 2016 Artemis Slipknot rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Εξαιρετικό βιβλίο δεν ήθελα να τελειώσει!! Ο Μπέρνι Γκούντερ είναι τρομερός χαρακτήρας, για μένα άρτια πλασμένος. Γενικά και οι τρείς ιστορίες έχουν αφάνταστο ενδιαφέρον, σε καθηλώνουν μέχρι το τέλος. Το μόνο που μπορώ να πώ είναι οτι δεν ενθουσιάστηκα με την τρίτη ιστορία τόσο όσο με τις άλλες, αλλά και πάλι ήταν πολύ καλή!!
Nikos Tsentemeidis
Ότι και να πεις γι αυτό το βιβλίο είναι λίγο. Διαβάζεται χωρίς σταματημό. Από τους πιο συμπαθείς ήρωες βιβλίων. Εξαιρετική γνώση της ιστορίας από τον συγγραφέα που σε βάζει αμέσως στο κλίμα της εποχής.
Sep 21, 2012 Kimberly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

I give up. I simply cannot read another noir cliché like, "Looking around the room, I found there were so many false eyelashes flapping at me that I was beginning to feel a draught." I know that's part of the genre, but I'm well into March Violets and it's going nowhere. These constant Jimmy Cagney comments have pushed me over the edge, and I think they're contagious. I'm struggling to keep my eyes open like a hooker in church on Sunday. Ugh....See what I mean?
Jul 27, 2009 Carolyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Remarkable books on many levels. They're well-researched and create a remarkably vivid portrait of wartime Berlin and post-war Vienna. The mysteries are first-rate hard-boiled stuff, with plenty of fistfights and other manly action, as well as twisting plots full of double-crosses and surprises. They also conjure up a chilling psychological portrait of Germany before and during the war, elevating them beyond pure page-turning crime fiction, for me, into moral literature. And yet, despite the vei ...more
This omnibus volume contains the first three Bernie Gunther novels by Philip Kerr. Reviews will be submitted separately for March Violets, The Pale Criminal, and A German Requiem.

The short version: read this series. The setting is ideally suited for the darkest roman noir. Bernie Gunther, who left the Kriminal Polizei because of politics taking precedent over justice, is the tough, wise-cracking P.I> who thumbs his nose at Hitler and his henchmen. However, not even Gunther can avoid being em
Echoes of Doblin and Hammett resonate in this opening trilogy in Kerr’s ongoing Bernie Gunther series. The cartoony image of a wise cracking shamus in Nazi Germany soon fades from your mind as Gunther’s journeys into pre and post war Germany becomes a chamber of horrors. The jaundiced world view and the cynical humor make it palatable while the seriousness of what is at stake is retained. Before the war the Nazis and after the war the United States and the Soviet Union act as deux ex machina in ...more
In one big paperback you get the complete Berlin trilogy: March Violets; The Pale Criminal and A German Requiem. This is noir at its best. Taking his cues from Chandler but making them its own, Kerr takes us into Berlin, 1936. Summer Olympics. Bernhard Gunther, ex-cop, now a private detective mostly finds missing persons and there are lot of them in Nazi's Berlin. Murder, politics and a very nice twist makes March Violets a very good start to a wonderful ride thru this dark part of history. The ...more
May 15, 2016 Violetique rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Η τριλογία ξεκινά στο προπολεμικό Βερολίνο του 1936 και ολοκληρώνεται περίπου 11 χρόνια αργότερα στη πληγωμένη από τον πόλεμο Βιεννη. Αν και όχι λάτρης του είδους διάβασα το βιβλίο αυτό απνευστί. Εξαιρετικά ατμοσφαιρικά, με τις απαραιτητες δόσεις χιούμορ και τις έξυπνες μεταφορές, τα τρία βιβλία δίνουν μια διαφορετική οπτική της γερμανικής κοινωνίας στα χρόνια ανελιξης του εθνικοσοσιαλισμού, της Γκεσταπο του Χίτλερ αλλά και των οικονομικών, κοινωνικών και συναισθηματικών ερειπίων που άφησε ως κα ...more
Jan 23, 2016 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emily by: panost
Απολαυστικό βιβλίο που μου κράτησε συντροφιά στις μεταπασχαλινές μου διακοπές στο χωριό.
Απολαυστικό αλλά ασήκωτο...
Ήταν ανάγκη να κάνουν 3 βιβλία σε ένα;
Στον καναπέ κόντευε να με πλακώσει, ο καρπός μου έπαθε θλάση και ο αγκώνας μου πιάστηκε.

Η πρώτη ιστορία είχε ωραίο τίτλο. "Οι βιολέτες του Μάρτη" και είναι ουσιαστικά η εισαγωγή στον εφιάλτη του ΓΡάιχ. Διαδραματίζεται το 1936 στο Βερολίνο. Μου άρεσε η μετάφραση, είχε μια σπιρτάδα. Από την άλλη όμως θα έπρεπε να έχει αρκετές επεξηγήσεις για λέξει
Lewis Weinstein
Hard boiled detective, Berlin style, 1936.

Bernie Gunther faces the world of Nazi violence and duplicity as an outsider, a former cop who is now a private detective, mostly looking for missing people. His work pulls him into the Nazi vortex, which is not unusual, since the Nazis are the main cause of people going missing. The pace is rapid, and there is not much depth to the characters; I guess these aspects of Kerr's writing complement each other.

Another aspect is less pleasing. I would call K
Vasilis Kalandaridis
Το ξεκινάς,χίλιες εβδομήντα σελιδούλες τις κανεις μια χαψιά και μετά κάθεσαι ευχαριστημένος και χαμογελάς.Και μετά από λίγο θες κι άλλο.
Dec 21, 2012 Ben rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just finished reading the whole trilogy in a row, which was a little more hard-bitten verbiage than I was prepared for. A few gems:
--"Don't make any sudden moves. I scare easily and then get violent to cover my embarassment."
--"With Jeschonnek's gun safely in my coat pocket, I bent down to take a look at him. You didn't have to be an undertaker to see that he was dead. There are neater ways of cleaning a man's ears than a 9 mm bullet."

If you enjoy Raymond Chandler, you'll like Philip Kerr. More
Dec 07, 2009 Bruce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: diehard fans of noir
Like cheap detective fiction? On a recent trip to the library, I saw that they were having a donated book sale - five for a dollar. Since they had the Josephine Tey I recently reviewed (worth the dollar by itself), I was incentivized to pick out another four books and this single-bound trilogy by Philip Kerr caught my eye. I had fallen into Philip Kerr by way of his Wittgenstein-inspired bit of serial killer detective sci fi, A Philosophical Investigation. Thanks to the built-in philosophy, the ...more
Nov 22, 2015 Δημήτρης rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4,5 αστεράκια. Απ' τα καλύτερα νουάρ που έχω διαβάσει. Παρόλο που για μένα δεν είναι και τα τρία βιβλία ισάξια (με σειρά αξίας 3,1,2) έχει τα πάντα: Ατμόσφαιρα κυρίαρχη, ιστορικά και γεωγραφικά στοιχεία, σφιχτή πλοκή με ανατροπές, χαρακτήρες, πολιτικό και κοινωνικό σχολιασμό. Ό,τι περιμένεις δηλαδή για να πεις ότι ένα στυνομικό βιβλίο είναι καλό βιβλίο και όχι απλώς καλό αστυνομικό. (Να μην τα ξαναλέμε για το Νέσμπο...).
Άξιζε τον κόπο, τις ώρες που του αφιέρωσα και τα πρωϊνά που βρέθηκα να κοιμ
Oct 14, 2015 Terence rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries-noir
Couldn’t finish.

Let me explain: I’m not a devoted fan of the mystery genre though I’m thankful to GoodReads for introducing me to some worthy authors in that field that I would otherwise never have read. In the normal course of affairs, I probably would not have picked this book up even though the premise – a detective working in Nazi and post-war Germany – was promising. However, I work with a woman who likes this sort of thing and I keep my eye open for books to recommend or get for Xmas gifts
Feb 08, 2016 Christinesoli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Υπέροχο!!!Αν και λόγω έλλειψης χρόνου άργησα πολύ να το τελειώσω είναι μια εξαιρετική τριλογία που πέρα της νουαρ αισθητικής περιέχει πολλές ιστορικές λεπτομέρειες. Ο κεντρικός χαρακτήρας είναι τέλειος και είναι δύσκολο να μην τον αγαπήσεις. Από τα τρία βιβλία ξεχωρίζω το τελευταίο, το οποίο και τελείωσα σε σχεδόν μια ημέρα. Μετά από αυτό νομίζω θα διαβάσω όλες τις ιστοριές του Μπερνι!
Danielle Parker
Feb 17, 2010 Danielle Parker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Book Review: Berlin Noir by Philip Kerr
Penguin, 1991
ISBN 978-0-14-023170-0
835 pages
I’ve been “off” reading science fiction and fantasy for a while for a simple reason. I wanted some really good writing. And that’s hard to find in the genre.
Now, that’s an incendiary statement, even to me. I’ve been a fan since I was a kid. The first two science fiction authors I read were Robert Heinlein and Andre Norton. I still love them. I can name half a dozen science fiction and fantasy authors I have so muc
This is a difficult review to write. The subject German National Socialism and the periods covered: 1936 (Olympics in Germany), 1938 (Sudetenland crisis), and 1947 (emerging cold war in Berlin and Vienna) are disturbing to many and difficult to think of in connection with Noir Fiction. However, Philip Kerr has managed to create an interesting trilogy out of it. The biggest drawback to the books is the over the top use of Noir cliches and characters. He might have done better to forego the langua ...more
Sep 07, 2015 Menia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Α well written noir, Kerr must have done his research about the time and the place. Although in the first book the end was easy to guess, the other 2 surprised me. A must read if you like detective stories
Kerr creates excellent mood and draws the scenes vividly without monologuing about history. March Violets especially reads like a Chandler or Hammett classic without any irritating obscenity worries (a lot more sex and Gunther's lewd thoughts than the old masters would have been allowed to write), with the convoluted plots made moot by the dark, ominous mood that permeates the story.
Unputdownable - I read the whole thing in a matter of days.
Sep 05, 2012 Allison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read several books this year that are set in the same time period as this one and that deal with Hitler's rise to power. In Kerr's novel, Bernie Gunther, a private investigator and former police detective finds himself entangled with the Kripo, the Gestapo and just ordinary thugs as he tries to solve a double homicide and burglary. Kerr does a great job with sense of time and place in this character-driven and atmospheric mystery.
Η τριλογία του Βερολίνου είναι ένα καλογραμμένο και καλοδουλεμένο ιστορικό νουάρ αλλά κυρίως καλοδουλεμένο. Φαίνεται και στα τρία βιβλία ο κόπος και η σχολαστικότητα του συγγραφέα να αποδώσει πιστά το ιστορικό πλαίσιο μέσα στο οποίο είναι τοποθετημένες οι ιστορίες του κι αυτό ανεβάζει κι άλλο την αξία του έργου του. Πέρα απ'αυτό όμως έχουμε τρεις πολύ καλές αστυνομικές ιστορίες στα χέρια μας με την αναμενόμενη νουάρ ατμόσφαιρα: κατασκοπεία,τζαζ μουσική,καπνός από τσιγάρα και ένας ντετέκτιβ με χα ...more
Πάνος Τουρλής
Μια εκπληκτική τριλογία, τρία χορταστικά αστυνομικά μυθιστορήματα σε ένα. Μη διστάσετε να βυθιστείτε στη μαγεία ενός καλογραμμένου και ταυτόχρονα καλά δομημένου αστυνομιικού μυθιστορήματος που θα σας ταξιδέψει από τη γερμανική αισιοδοξία του 1936 στην αμφιβολία του 1938 και την ήττα του 1947. Δεν μπορούσα να το αφήσω από τα χέρια μου! Στα συν του κειμένου η γρήγορη αφήγηση, οι απολύτως απαραίτητοι διάλογοι, οι απίθανες μεταφορές και παρομοιώσεις (βλ. χαρακτηριστικά αποσπάσματα κατωτέρω) και ο ασ ...more
Apr 27, 2014 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Besides being a brisk and entertaining read, these three great spy-slash-detective novels also offer a unique way to explore one of history's weirdest and most horrible societies: Nazi Germany in the lead up to WWII. All the usual elements of a good noir are here -- sex, cynicism, rainy streets, deadly puzzle pieces, guns, and good suits -- this time set against the massive and sinister backdrop of humanity's most important historical event. The main character, Bernie Gunther, serves as our unst ...more
Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
I bought this book a long time ago - I think it had just come out in paperback. I never read it beyond the first few paragraphs - some books are like that; they attract your attention with a seductive wink and come-on covers but when you open them... well... you're just not in the mood and they go on the shelf. And there they stay. Every now and then you feel you ought to read them but not right now and then, after a while they just become part of the furniture...
Then I read Lehter Station and w
Feb 27, 2012 Tamara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Trois excellents policiers à la Michael Connelly, version Allemagne des années 1930 à 1947. Leçon d'histoire, la montée du nazisme, jusqu'au pays occupé par les puissances. Le point de vue est passionnant car vu de l'intérieur. Alors que notre regard a posteriori sur cette période est rempli d'horreur, la litanie du discours appris à l'école nous trotte dans la tête "plus jamais ça", mais finalement, la question n'est pas de savoir comment un peuple a-t-il pu laisser faire cela ? mais plutôt : c ...more
Feb 26, 2011 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My weakness for Acceptable But Ultimately Regrettable Historical Fiction is, I feel, well-documented on Goodreads -- generally an absurdly picky consumer of books, when the mood strikes I will read a seed catalogue if it is set in interwar Europe. I'm so happy, then, to have discovered this non-guilty pleasure to squirrel away for moments when only nicotine-stained fingers clutching guns and schnapps will do. The cover blurb, a patently ridiculous sentence, ranks Phillip Kerr with Alan Furst and ...more
Apr 02, 2014 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am at an unusual loss for words here. Phillip Kerr has written a series about a man who was originally an honest detective in the Berlin police department in the early 1930's, quits and becomes a private detective as the police house gets ugly (becomes the SS and the Gestapo), and is increasingly ruined by the Nazis. This is brilliant. Original, and absolutely relevant. When it comes to "noir" nothing touches a guy trying to make it as a decent man in Nazi Germany, though I never thought of th ...more
Vassiliki Dass
Nov 16, 2015 Vassiliki Dass rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Όλη η τρίλογία είναι ένα αριστουργηματικό ιστορικό νουάρ. Το τρίτο μέρος, το Γερμανικό Ρέκβιεμ, είναι κατ'εμέ το πιο αδύναμο αλλά τελειώνει με ένα πονηρό χαμόγελο αισιοδοξίας
Linda Baker
BERLIN NOIR (Bernie Gunther Books 1-3)
Philip Kerr
Viking Penguin

Berlin Noir is a repackaging of the first three books in the Bernie Gunther series: March Violets, The Pale Criminal, and German Requiem. Noir is not and has never been a preferred genre for me but having read a review of the most recent Bernie Gunther, The Lady from Zagreb, I decided to give the series a spin.

Bernie is a cynical, hard-drinking, somewhat overweight PI working primarily on missing persons cases. The setting for March
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please add book cover from amazon 1 4 May 24, 2015 11:59AM  
  • Stettin Station (John Russell, #3)
  • The World at Night (Night Soldiers, #4)
  • A Small Death in Lisbon
  • Second Violin (Inspector Troy, #6)
  • Rosa (Berlin Trilogy, #1)
  • The Good German
  • A Coffin for Dimitrios
  • A Night of Long Knives (Hannah Vogel, #2)
  • He Died With His Eyes Open
Kerr has published eleven novels under his full name and a children's series, Children of the Lamp, under the name P.B. Kerr.

More about Philip Kerr...

Other Books in the Series

Bernie Gunther (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • March Violets (Bernard Gunther, #1)
  • The Pale Criminal (Bernard Gunther, #2)
  • A German Requiem (Bernard Gunther, #3)
  • The One from the Other (Bernard Gunther, #4)
  • A Quiet Flame (Bernard Gunther, #5)
  • If The Dead Rise Not (Bernard Gunther, #6)
  • Field Gray (Bernard Gunther, #7)
  • Prague Fatale (Bernard Gunther, #8)
  • A Man Without Breath (Bernard Gunther, #9)
  • The Lady from Zagreb (Bernard Gunther, #10)

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“I didn’t know you were interested in politics,’ I said. ‘I’m not,’ he said. ‘But isn’t that how Hitler got elected in the first place: too many people who didn’t give a shit who was running the country?” 7 likes
“Πώς να περιγράψει κανείς το απερίγραπτο; Πώς μπορείς να μιλήσεις για κάτι που σε άφησε άφωνο από τρόμο; Υπάρχουν άλλοι, πολύ πιο ευφραδείς, που στάθηκαν ανίκανοι να βρουν τις κατάλληλες λέξεις, Πρόκειται για την σιωπή που γεννάει η ντροπή, αφού ακόμα και οι αθώοι είναι ένοχοι. Στερούμενος τα δικαιώματά του, ο άνθρωπος ξαναγίνεται ζώο. Οι πεινασμένοι κλέβουν απ' τους πεινασμένους. Η προσωπική επιβίωση αποτελεί την μόνη έγνοια. Μια έγνοια που καταπατά, ή και διαγράφει ακόμα, το οποιοδήποτε βίωμα. Σκοπός του Νταχάου ήταν να δουλεύεις μέχρι να καταστρέψεις την πνευματική σου υπόσταση. Ο θάνατος ήταν ένα αναπάντεχο υποπροϊόν. Για να επιβιώσεις εσύ, οι άλλοι έπρεπε να υποφέρουν για λογαριασμό σου. Όταν χτυπούσαν ή λιντσάριζαν κάποιον άλλο, εσύ ήσουν ασφαλής -έστω και για λίγο. Άλλοτε πάλι, για μερικές μέρες, έτρωγες την μερίδα του διπλανού σου, που είχε πεθάνει στον ύπνο του.” 3 likes
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