divendres, 3 d’octubre de 2014

"Prague Fatale", Philip Kerr

Prague Fatale
Philip Kerr, 2011
Quercus, 413 pàgines

Berlin, 1941. After the dramatic experience he suffered in the Eastern front, Bernie Gunther resumes his work at the Police Praesidium at the Berlin's Alexanderplatz. The massive killing of Jews he has witnessed has left him with very few interesting for life, so he plays with the idea of suicide. However, his work at the Kripo will led him to meet Arianne Tauber, for whom he falls in love. The girl seems to be involved in some kind of spying game, but Gunther believes her when she says that she did not know anything about spying, that she just delivered envelopes to make some money. Later on, Gunther is called to Prague by his "protector" Reinhard Heydrich. The ruler of Bohemia wants him to become his bodyguard, since he suspects someone tried to poison him. After a celebration in the Panenske Brezany castle, one of Heydrich's adjutants, Kuttner, is found dead, and Gunther is committed to conduct the investigation, which will involve interrogating some of the most powerful men in the III Reich. Anyway, as usual, things take strange turns, and what was going to be more or less conventional investigation will led to one of the most tragical episodes in the history of Czechoslovakia, in which Gunther will be involuntarily involved.

In this novel, Kerr has created a very classical-styled crime and mistery novel, which I say with satisfaction. We find all the ingredients of any top-rated crime novel: the candid investigator, tortured by his past; the beautiful and dangerous girl; the powerful man with hidden intentions; the enigmatic victim; etc. In addition to all that, we find a very attractive historical background: the occupied Prague during WWII. The result is a captivating novel, intense and even breathtaking. Once again Gunther is a victim of the manipulation and the lies of the powerful ones, and once again he tries to cope with it the most honestly he can.

In some way, I feel that this novel is the return of the genuine Gunther. After his "world tour" through Austria, Argentina and Cuba, we recover the Kripo investigator that does what he was born to do: conduct difficult investigation in a rough but honest way. To me, it reconnects with the first novels of the series, March Violets and The Pale Criminal. Given the fact that these novels do not keep a cronological order, I would recommend any of them to anyone who was interested in the Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther's series. I have enjoyed this novel a lot, both for the story itself and for the historical background. It is also a good novel to make a first approach to the figure of Reinhard Heydrich, one of the more poweful and darkest leaders of the III Reich. An absolut gem, fully recommended.