“Prussian Blue” is the twelfth book in the “Bernie Gunther series”, yet again, it can be read as stand alone.
This book finds Bernie in the French Riviera, working on a hotel, as he receives a dinner invitation from his wife. It sounds rather strange to him, as it would be a little difficult for her to be there at the time, but he accepts the offer. When he arrives at the date, he founds himself having dinner with the head of Stasi police. It is 1956 and the Eastern Germany Police is shuffling the cards of the deck. Bernie is asked to handle a loose end of an agent, he is not so fond of. Given his integrity and honesty, he cannot commit murder, even to someone he dislikes. Therefore he is on the run, trying to escape being captured by an old partner.
The whole situation brings him memories of 17 years ago, 1939, when he was investigating a murder in Berghof, in Hitler’s country house, and actual headquarters of the chancellery and the Nazi Party, just before the invasion to Poland. It was not out of his fondness for the Nazis or Hitler that he agreed to this investigation, but rather of the selfe conservation feeling that kept him alive in the coming years.
This is a hell of a detective’s story that Kerr is up to with this novel. History is around the trenches at all time and the whole pre and post World War II atmosphere is vivid in the air of this Bavarian village. The narration is split between two eras with 17 year difference between them. It starts at 1956, with the reality of the East German Police, Stasi, leading their way around the world, committing their own crimes, just like the Gestapo. That is because, the same people that were in the police forces of Hitler’s Germany are still pulling the strings after the war. Nothing new for those who study history. It continues back in 1939, going back and forth really smoothly and not confusing the reader, as all the events from one era connect to those of the other.
Kerr’s narration is well known to his fans and so is Bernie’s integrity. The author tries really hard to keep his main character unchanged throughout the years and the difficult times, and he accomplishes it nonetheless. It is a remarkable job so to speak, being able to support your hero after 12 books!
It’s an atmospheric long but enjoyable read, destined to put the reader into some thought. Human nature is not far from the savage times. Given the current situation in Europe and around the world in general, where the right and fascist parties are getting strength and power, it is a reminder to us all of what has happened and what can become of people in power. Even the slightest power can make man hungry for more, can make him greedy, can make him think low of human life. Do we really want to see another Hitler dominating our world? Cause we are really not far from that…