Saturday, 26th May 2018
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Author Philip Kerr : Published by Quercus : Price 16.99 Euro

Philip Kerr, the author of this book, died one week before the publication date making the 13th installment of his Bernie Gunter series the last ever.

It is the early 1950's in the novel and Bernie is working in a morgue, keeping his head down and trying to get by as best as he can. He has already changed his identity and is going under the name of Christof Ganz. While he doesn't have the worst war record he feels that it is better that people don't know who he is and the fewer questions the better.

Through a series of fortuitous connections he is offered a job as an investigator at an insurance firm in Munich. Being a former detective with some significant investigations under his belt it is exactly the sort of job that he will be good at. His first major job goes well for him and the head men at the firm are pleased with his work, enough that they decide to give him another more advanced job, this time in Athens where a ship has been sunk and the firm needs to know all the details before they can decide whether they can pay out or not. Gunter realizes that it shouldn't be a terrible thing to get away to the sun for a few weeks but severly underestimates the sort of job that it will turn out to be.

First off the man that owns the ship is a strange bird and won't even tell him where he is staying in Athens.

So it is understandable that Gunter follows him one night to find out where he is staying and if there is any reason why he is keeping it secret. When the man doesn't turn up to the next meeting Gunter and the local insurance agent working as his interpreter go to his house and find the man there murdered.

Worse then that the police also turn up and it looks as if Gunter and the agent will be fingered for the murder. That is before the lead detective puts a proposition to them, work on the case for him and he will let them alone. If not then they will be locked up immediately. Of course they agree.

The more that Gunter delves into the case the more he understands that the roots of it lie back in the events of the second world war and specifically the expropriation of money from the Jews of Salonika, the majority of whom ended up in Auschwitz. It turns out that some of the gold stolen from them was on a ship that was deliberately scuttled and that the man who was murdered was part of a group that were after it.

While this is not the best book in the series it is still without question worth a read as Kerr has a wonderful way with keeping the reader glued to every page.

It's just a pity that there will be no more Gunter novels.

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