Philip Kerr’s damaged but noble German cop Bernie Gunther is back for another episode and here’s your chance for a first look at The Other Side of Silence. Gunther bestrides the 20th century. We know he fought in World War I but Kerr has kept that episode up his sleeve so far. We have observed him as he attempts to keep his moral code intact during the rise and fall of Hitler in the 30s and 40s. At one stage or another he has gritted his teeth and been polite to such monsters as Joseph Goebbels in The Lady From Zagreb and Reinhardt Heydrich in Prague Fatale. He investigated the Katyn Forest massacre in A Man Without Breath and tangled with the Peron regime in 1950s Argentina.
One of the delights of the Bernie Gunther novels is the regular appearance of real-life political and military figures. In The Other Side of Silence he becomes involved in the worlds of literature and espionage. It’s the post-War era and even so-called good Germans like Bernie have learned to keep their heads down. It’s 1956, and our man is eking out a living as a hotel security man on the French Riviera.
In a plot which involves none other than the celebrated and controversial English writer William Somerset Maugham, Bernie also meets an unwelcome ghost from his wartime past, and becomes tangled in the nasty web spun by two celebrated British traitors – Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean.
If you want an overview of the Bernie Gunther novels, take some time to read our guide to the man and his world. The Other Side of Silence is to be published by Quercus on 29 March. When you get hold of your copy, flip it over and have a look at the jacket quotes. Like the DIY retailer Wickes, ‘it’s got our name on it!’