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The One From the Other: A Bernie Gunther Novel    by Philip Kerr order for
One From the Other
by Philip Kerr
Order:  USA  Can
Putnam, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Go back in time to 1949, and meet the hardboiled Bernie Gunther.

Persistently insolent, cautious, and blunt, Gunther was a cop in Berlin before the war. Now - after surviving the war, which included having spent too much time in a Russian POW camp - Gunther has most recently been working as the owner-operator of his late father-in-law's hotel in Dachau. Not exactly a most-favored tourist destination considering the city's wartime reputation, the Dachau hotel isn't very prosperous. In fact, after his father-in-law's suicide and his wife's emotional breakdown which has led to her confinement in a Munich psychiatric hospital, Gunther is fed up with unpleasant Dachau and the listless hotel business, so he has just returned to Munich where he has resumed his preferred profession - private detective.

In a post-war Germany, there is no shortage of work for a private detective, so Gunther knows that he will be kept busily employed. First a prominent lawyer wants Gunther to look into the purportedly poor treatment of locally confined Nazi war criminals, and - in a related case - Baron von Starnberg, the former director of a prominent chemical manufacturing firm wants Gunther to find evidence and witnesses who can help win leniency for von Starnberg's confined son, yet another Nazi war criminal.

Then, among Gunther's other clients and cases, a mysterious woman - who uses different names but ultimately says that she is Frau Britta Warzok - wants Gunther to find her missing husband, Friedrich Warzok, the man who had been the brutal commander of Lemberg-Janowska, the infamous labor camp in Poland. She doesn't want him back, she says. She simply wants to remarry and because she is Catholic she needs proof of his death.

So, now Gunther has plenty of new cases and clients, and 'any one of them could have taken over' Gunther's life, 'but only one of them did.'

In fact, Gunther now has a problem: In short order Gunther is receiving repeated point-blank warnings to drop the Warzok case. He gets warned first by a priest, then by a prisoner, later by a police officer, and later by a former SS general. And, when the warnings become more explicit and violent, Gunther winds up being brutally beaten and then dumped at a hospital where the physician takes a special interest in his recovery.

Gunther quickly recognizes that he has become embroiled in a dangerous and murderous case in which the horrors of Nazi Germany are intruding upon the present and the future. Now he faces a tough challenge as he tries to separate the elusive truth from a complex web of pernicious and virulent lies. Then, when Adolf Eichmann begins to figure prominently in the ultimate solution to the case, Gunther knows that the terrifying truth - whatever the cost might be - must be exposed.

Like the earlier Philip Kerr novels, especially his highly acclaimed Berlin Noir trilogy, The One From the Other - as the publisher correctly argues - is 'a cerebral thriller that will appeal to history and mystery lovers alike.' Tense, chilling, and provocative - and populated with larger-than-life characters - The One From the Other is a complicated, intelligent tale of intrigue and adventure. Especially remarkable for its razor-sharp figures of speech, compelling dialogue, and intriguing historical situations within a spell-binding fictional context, Phillip Kerr's writing is virtually flawless.

Finally, I will close by making a confession and apology: This was my first experience with author Philip Kerr. Now I must apologetically bid farewell to Clancy, Ludlum, DeMille, and LeCarre because I am now eager to change loyalties and catch up on all that I have been missing in Kerr's novels.

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