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The Other Side of Silence (Hardcover)
Philip Kerr’s latest Bernie Gunther, The Other Side of Silence, finds the retired cop/private eye on the Riviera, working in a hotel as the consierge. It’s a quiet life, one that suits him for where he is in his life. There’s little intrigue involved, little gunfire, little danger. But this is a Gunther novel so that’s about to change. The 11th in the series opens with Bernie smarting from another broken marriage. His wife has recently left him. But this is a Gunther novel so things are going to get worse. He’s learning bridge, playing with a set group. But this is a Gunther novel so things are going to get complicated.
How complicated? Well, his bridge partner is murdered, he meets a British writer who wants to meet Somerset Maugham so that she can write his biography, and, of course, someone from Berlin before the war, someone who could blow his new false identity. Through bridge, Gunther is drawn into the intrigue that seems to always surround Maugham – blackmail, questions about his espionage past. From there, we’re into questions of identity, questions of loyalties, questions of treachery and the gamesmanship of the early Cold War. The present in the book (though we do go back to an unknown period in Berney’s life) is 1956. The defections of Burgess and MacLean are just a few years in the past but the doubts and paranoia still hover, as does the tension of the Suez Canal trouble.
There are serpents in paradise and Bernie is the guide for us as well as Maugham.
“As I drove up the gravel drive, the tall green door was opened by Ernest, the butler, and a moment later there was Maugham wearing an open-necked blue shirt, white linen trousers, and espadrilles. He was carrying a Pan American flight bag over one shoulder. I didn’t get out of the car. I switched off the engine, wound down the window and then Maugham leaned in. It was a beautiful deep summer evening – the kind of evening for talk of love, not blackmail money and an incriminating photograph.
Behind a hedge of thick pink and white oleaners I could hear water trickling into the swimming pool, and the air was thick with the smell of orange blossom, which was preferable to the absinth martini and cigarette corrupting the old man’s mephitic breath, which now poured over me like chlorine gas drifting across No Man’s Land.”
As always, Kerr is at his Chandlerian best with Bernie’s noirish narration painting a vivid picture of the people and the settings.
Philip Kerr has never signed with us before and we’re thrilled to finally have him in. The Other Side of Silence is the new book and we’ll do our best to have all of the earlier ones on hand. That’s not always easy as we keep selling the damn thing— JB
From New York Times-bestselling author Philip Kerr, the much anticipated return of Bernie Gunther in a series hailed by The Daily Beast as "the best crime novels around today."
Once I'd been a good detective in Kripo, but that was a while ago, before the criminals wore smart gray uniforms and nearly everyone locked up was innocent." Being a Berlin cop in 1942 was a little like putting down mousetraps in a cage full of tigers.
The war is over. Bernie Gunther, our sardonic former Berlin homicide detective and unwilling SS officer, is now living on the French Riviera. It is 1956 and Bernie is the go-to guy at the Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat, the man you turn to for touring tips or if you need a fourth for bridge. As it happens, a local writer needs just that, someone to fill the fourth seat in a regular game that is the usual evening diversion at the Villa Mauresque. Not just any writer. Perhaps the richest and most famous living writer in the world: W. Somerset Maugham. And it turns out it is not just a bridge partner that he needs; it's some professional advice. Maugham is being blackmailed--perhaps because of his unorthodox lifestyle. Or perhaps because of something in his past, because once upon a time, Maugham worked for the British secret service, and the people now blackmailing him are spies.
As Gunther fans know, all roads lead back to the viper's nest that was Hitler's Third Reich and to the killing fields that spread like a disease across Europe. Even in 1956, peace has not come to the continent: now the Soviets have the H-bomb and spies from every major power feel free to make all of Europe their personal playground.
About the Author
Philip Kerr is the author of ten previous Gunther novels. Field Gray and Prague Fatale made the New York Times extended list, while A Man Without Breath debuted at #13 last year. The Gunther books have garnered nominations for the Edgar and Shamus Awards, and Kerr has won the British Crime Writers' Association Ellis Peters Award for Historical Crime Fiction. As P. B. Kerr, he is the author of the much-loved young-adult fantasy series Children of the Lamp. He lives in London and tours annually in America.