Jessica's Reviews > Prague Fatale

Prague Fatale by Philip Kerr
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Mar 20, 12

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction, mystery
Recommended to Jessica by: I received it in a Goodreads giveaway.
Recommended for: Sherlock Holmes fans, or fans of historical fiction set in World War II
Read from March 14 to 18, 2012 — I own a copy , read count: 1

I want to begin by thanking the publisher, Marian Wood Books (G.P. Putnam's Sons), from whom I received a free copy of the uncorrected proof via a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

Since mysteries are not my typical modus operandi, I wasn't sure what to expect when I first picked up this novel. From the back cover, I deduced (in true detective fashion), that there had been seven previous Bernie Gunther novels. This either meant that I was in for a very compelling story, or a chain of pulp mystery novels that I would love about as much as I love my mother's collection of best-selling science fiction space operas (which is to say, not at all).

Despite my aforementioned reservations though, the hook still sounded interesting, and anyway, I felt I was under obligation to read and give my most honest review since the publisher had been so generous as to send me a free advanced copy. I started the novel on Wednesday, and figured I'd make my way through it over the next two weeks while our school was out on spring vacation - somewhere between lesson planning and wedding planning, I was sure to find the time.

It is now Sunday, and though the laundry may want for washing, and the clean dishes may still linger in the washer from Friday (at least they're clean), Bernie Gunther's latest case is all wrapped up.

When I first started reading Prague Fatale, I likened Bernie Gunther to Dick Tracy set in Nazi Germany. I meant it as a compliment at the time, but as it turns out, I didn't give him enough credit. Despite his reckless wit and borderline suicidal courage, his brilliant problem solving and attention to detail are more reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes than Dick Tracy.

Except that I am not truly a Sherlock Holmes fan. While I can appreciate Holmes' brilliant crime solving, I always feel a bit like Watson when reading Doyle - that is to say, patronized. After all, the solution is quite elementary when you come around to it.

Bernie Gunther, on the other hand, is a character I can truly get behind. Both courageous and cowardly at turns, I can never quite decide if I'm supposed to love him for his hatred of the Nazi regime, or hate him because he is ultimately willing to do nothing of value to oppose it. Somehow, while detracting nothing from the plot of the novel, Philip Kerr leaves me wondering, if I had lived under the Nazi regime, would I have been a Bernie, an Arianne, or something all together more worthless than either of them?

This is a novel worth reading, and a character worth knowing.
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Reading Progress

03/14/2012 page 48
12.0% "I have to admit, this is not what I normally read, but so far it's been good. I haven't read any of the previous Bernie Gunther novels, but it's a little bit like Dick Tracy set in Nazi Germany."
03/17/2012 page 262
63.0% "Woohoo spring break! Time for some serious reading."

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