Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Man Without Breath by Phillip Kerr

A Man Without Breath by Phillip Kerr

In the Katyn Woods near Smolensk the Germans are awaiting a Russian counter attack. Things are not going well on the Eastern front. The siege of Stalingrad has just ended in disaster for Hitler. Nasty reports are starting to come to light about the activities of the Reich. Plots and schemes (which are the same thing) are being birthed right and left by the German nobility.

Bernard Gunthar is a man without hope. His wife is dead, his country in ruin, and Hitler is in power. He is recruited to head to Smolensk to help Goebbles to build a case against the Russian NKVD for the mass murder of a bunch of polish POWs in the hopes that this will sway international public opinion in German’s favor. Along the way he finds a lot of corpses, drinks a lot, quips a lot, kills a man, makes loves to a woman, and generally behaves like himself.

This one was written a good bit later than Berlin Noir and it shows. The language is occasionally anachronistic and the whole plot is rather contrived. Still though, this lives in the shadowy borderlands between historical fiction, noir detective drama, and spycraft. Good stuff if you like any of the three; popcorn even if you don’t.

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