This is the second book by Philip Kerr that I read, and the second book about chief inspector Bernie Gunther. Checking through his books it seems Kerr does not write in a chronological order. The Quiet Flame, which I read several years ago, obviously before I started blogging in 2012, since I cannot find it among my reads. Remember liking it a lot though. The series of books is quite different, following a detective working during the Nazi time. The Quiet Flame is set in 1950 when he emigrates to Argentina. Prague Fatale takes place in 1941-42 in Berlin and Prague.
While trying to solve a crime in Berlin, where it seems, not everyone is interested in a thorough investigation, Gunther is called to Prague to work as a body guard to his old boss, Reinhard Heydrich. Unwillingly, he ventures on this mission with his mistress Arianne, which he met during his latest investigation in Berlin.
In the castle, outside Prague, where Heydrich is living, he meets the crème de la crème of Nazi high ranking military. Gunther has a natural antagonism against these people and his comments are harsh and borders on treason, but he is protected by Heydrich. He very soon discovers that Heydrich intentions with his stay in Prague, is slightly different from being his body guard.
I will not reveal more of the plot, which is exciting all the way through. Gunther is bordering a thin line, and he has to keep an eye on Arianne as well. Is she really the one she pretends to be. There are some really terrible moments in the book, which are difficult to read and imaging, but otherwise, due to the wit and cold "I don't bother" attitude from Gunther, it is a very good read. I recently saw the film "Anthropoid" about the resistance movements attempt to kill Heydrich. This book turned out to be a very good complementary read to the film. The book also looks at another angle on the story.
I like the way Philip Kerr writes, his stories and his character Bernie Gunther. The action is realistic, and above all, it gives you a view on how it might have been to work under such circumstances as this character. Not in line with the Nazi ideology, but having to survive. The book also tells about the difficult times meeting most people in Berlin with the shortfall of goods, hight inflation and lack of money. This is the time when the Jews were forced to put a yellow star on their clothes. Kerr integrates Jewish neighbours and contacts to Gunther and manages to tell another story in the main story. All in all, it makes for an exciting read and this is not the last time I will read anything by Kerr.
I also used this book for last Fridays Bookbeginnings on Friday and The Friday 56.