A Quiet Flame opens in 1950. Falsely fingered a war criminal, Bernie Gunther has booked passage to Buenos Aires, lured, like the Nazis whose company he has always despised, by promises of a new life and a clean passport from the Perón government. But Bernie doesn't have the luxury of settling into his new home and lying low. He is soon pressured by the local police into taking on a case in which a girl has turned up dead, gruesomely mutilated, and another-the daughter of a wealthy German banker-has gone missing. Both crimes seem to connect to an unsolved case Bernie worked on back in Berlin in 1932. It's not so far-fetched that the cases might be linked: after all, the scum of the earth has been washing up on Argentine shores-state-licensed murderers and torturers-so why couldn't a serial killer be among them?
But Argentina, just like Germany, holds terrible secrets within its corrupt halls of power. When beautiful Anna Yagubsky seeks Gunther out, desperate for help, to find out what happened to her Jewish aunt and uncle who have disappeared, he is drawn into a horror story that rivals everything he has tried so hard to leave behind half a world away.
Nazi Germany and Argentina under the Perons are places perhaps best visited from the safety of an armchair, but Kerr never stints on atmosphere and his books are a kind of immersion into place and time that can be hard to shake off. He's both an excellent novelist and gifted architect of mysteries and his dialogue is first-rate. As Colonel Montalban, Bernie's police boss says, "'To be a great detective one must also be a protagonist. A dynamic sort of character who makes things happen just by being himself. I think you are this kind of person, Gunther.'"
Montalban's right and readers are all the richer for it. (Reviewed by Joanne Collings).
Warts and all - Kerr makes little attempt to hide them-Bernie Gunther ... remains endearing, entertaining and eminently forgivable.
Starred Review. Kerr, who's demonstrated his versatility with high-quality entries in other genres, cleverly and plausibly grafts history onto a fast-paced thriller plot.
Fans of the earlier series titles will love the extended sections that re-create the grimly decadent atmosphere of the last days of the Weimar Republic. Highly recommended.
The Scotsman - Allan Massie
[A]n accomplished, smoothly professional mystery, but lacks something of the sharp authenticity of those early Gunther books ... The novel is enjoyable enough, good-quality airport fiction. But that's all it is, which is sad, because the early Bernie Gunther novels were so much more than that.
Euro Crime - Norman Price A Quiet Flame is more than a crime fiction book and makes a good case for crime fiction as an educational tool as well as mere entertainment. I highly recommend this excellent book especially if you want to learn about events a lot of people would like to forget, or even deny happened.
The Telegraph - Jake Kerridge
[A] bleak tale, but a funny and thrilling one; at times I wondered if I should be enjoying a novel about genocide and paedophilia quite so much. In Bernie Gunther, Kerr has created a plum example of that irresistible folk hero, the detective who is the only honourable man in a wicked world.
When I was a teenager, my mother gave me some advice which I almost
immediately ignored. We were both avid readers who preferred reading to talking
and most of our limited conversation was about what we were reading.
She had enjoyed English novelist Norah Lofts's trilogy about the history of a
house and the stories of the people who had lived in it over a century. "Make
sure," she said," to start with the first book." But when I went to the library,
it was out, so I started with the second, then went back to the first. Although
I still enjoyed the books, reading the middle before the beginning and then jumping to the end gave me a kind of Alice in Wonderland
sense of disjointedness. It taught me a lesson: I always try to start a series
at the beginning.
A few years ago, I made a rule for myself and then quickly ignored it. (Do I
ever learn?) I decided I was keeping details about characters in enough mystery
or police series already and that I would not start any new such series. That...
Mario Conde, retired from the police force, now makes a living trading antique books. In a book, Conde discovers a newspaper article about a beautiful bolero singer of the 1950s, who disappeared mysteriously. Condes intuition sets him off on an investigation into the murder.
These are 2 of the 7 readalike suggestions for A Quiet Flame. Members have full access to all readalikes. If you are a member, please login. To find out more about membership, click here.
British Parliament asks Amazon to clarify why it pays $9 million in income tax on $23 billion of UK sales.(May 20 2013) Amazon will be called back to give further evidence to members of the British Parliament "to clarify how its activities in the U.K. justify its low corporate...