March Violets (Bernie Gunther Series #1)

March Violets (Bernie Gunther Series #1)

by Philip Kerr


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When private investigator Bernie Gunther agrees to track down some stolen jewels, his search takes him down the dangerous streets of pre-World War 2 Berlin and into the path of the most influential players in Nazi Germany…
Wisecracking cop turned private investigator Bernie Gunther specializes in missing persons, and as the Third Reich’s power has grown, Bernie has become a very busy man. But as he takes on cases involving millionaire industrialists, stolen diamonds, and Hitler’s most powerful cronies, Bernie finds himself mired in the brutality and corruption of a country on the brink of war.

Hard-hitting, fast-paced, and richly detailed, March Violets is noir writing at its blackest and best.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780142004142
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/27/2004
Series: Bernie Gunther Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 88,809
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.75(h) x 0.53(d)

About the Author

Philip Kerr was the New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Bernie Gunther novels, three of which—Field GrayThe Lady from Zagreb, and Prussian Blue—were finalists for the Edgar Award for Best Novel. Kerr also won several Shamus Awards and the British Crime Writers’ Association Ellis Peters Award for Historical Crime Fiction. Just before his death in 2018, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. As P.B. Kerr, he was the author of the much-loved young adult fantasy series Children of the Lamp.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Echoes of Raymond Chandler but better on his vivid and well-researched detail than the master." —Evening Standard

"Taut, brutal, coarse, believable and gripping stuff." —Sunday Telegraph

"Kerr’s complex intrigue allows space for brilliantly provoking political asides." —Sunday Times

Customer Reviews

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March Violets (Bernie Gunther Series #1) 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
KenCady More than 1 year ago
Now I have read all of the Philip Kerr Bernie Gunther novels. March Violets proves to be the weak one in the pile, as I guess that Kerr was just trying to thresh out the character that he later made into such an intriguing and fascinating detective. The time frame for the novels, usually in the Hitler days or shortly thereafter is informative and seemingly historically accurate. In March Violets I felt that the story and character of Bernie Gunther had not been as well fleshed out as it later is. It was also disappointing that Gunther used, as an interrogation tactic, the threat to turn a person over to the "queer squad," knowing full well that the interrogee was not gay, and that the sick squad would make short order of him anyway. Gunther is later presented as a man with more integrity, and this episode is a stain on his record.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I kept picturing Bogart playing Bernie in the movie of this novel. I don't agree with these who are critical of the 'homophobia'. This is set on the late '30s and that is the way it was in these times. Good story, great character.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Film noir mood. Characters vividly drawn. Added bonus = descriptions of Berlin and Berliners as Germany succumbs to National Socialism. Rather too gritty for fans of MC Beaton I'ed suggest, otherwise should be appealing to those who enjoy a sense of place along with their mystery.
DaveAzBc More than 1 year ago
This was a good mystery which I found interesting throughout. The protagonist, a cynical ex-cop, is now a private eye in 1936 Berlin. His anti-authority attitude keeps it entertaining for the reader, albeit dangerous for his own safe survival. The author makes use of frequent metaphors in describing things and in the characters' dialogs...perhaps more often than I have encountered in real life! There is also a lot of unknown slang coming from the characters' mouths. Using the context, I could usually figure out what they meant. I still don't know if this is supposed to be 1936-era slang, German slang, or British slang (the author is British). I may try another Bernie Gunther mystery in the future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are a child of the Second World War, this will grab your imagination.
Anonymous 25 days ago
Anonymous 6 months ago
I have now read 8 of the Bernie Gunther stories. Each one flips between a current event in Bernie's life and a flashback to a related event in Nazi dominated Germany. It is fascinating to see how the author has Bernie (a good man) deal with being forced to work with evil men in charge of a powerful and corrupt government.
FredB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first Bernie Gunther novel. Gunther is a detective in pre-war Nazi Germany. He is not a Nazi, but sees what is going on in Germany as a horror. The case he works on involves someone high up in the Nazi hierarchy who, along with his wife, was murdered and then left in a burning house. The final resolution of the plot is complex and involves Gunther spending some time in Dachau as a prisoner.
countrylife on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
March Violets is my first `noir¿ read, and I have to say that I really enjoyed this stark, dark crime fiction tale set in 1930s Berlin. The aura of the place and time swirled like fog through the story. I enjoyed the audio version and found the narration very well done. I will definitely read more of the Bernie Gunther series.
zmagic69 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first book in the Bernie Gunther trilogy, and like the others it immediately sucks you in. It takes place in Berlin in 1936 under Nazi rule, and the history of like at the time is remarkable. It explains to some degree how the Nazi's were able to get away with what they did for so long. As with all Bernie Gunther books they read like a detective story written from the 1930's through 1950's. If you like this style of writing you will enjoy any of the books in the series.
smik on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The setting is Berlin in 1936, and Berlin is readying for the Olympic Games. Gunther's secretary Dagmarr is getting married to a member of the National Socialist Flying Corps.When Gunther returns to his office after the wedding he finds a dark blue Mercedes convertible waiting for him.Its occupant asks him to investigate the deaths of his daughter and son-in-law.Gunther's investigation leads him to calling in favours from his former colleagues in the police force, and will eventually lead to him being imprisoned himself.The setting of MARCH VIOLETS feels authentic and well researched, the author seems to have based his style on better known hard boiled noir writers. If anything I got a little tired of the plentiful-in-metaphors style.However Jeff Harding does an excellent job of the narration even if it does feel as if it owes a lot to a Chicago gangster style.MARCH VIOLETS is #1 in Kerr's Bernard Guther series. IF THE DEAD RISE NOT, which I read and reviewed recently, seems to have been set more or less in the same period. I found the time threads connecting the two a little confusing, but I guess that serves me right for reading them out of order.
dougwood57 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
March Violets is the first entrée in Kerr¿s Berlin trilogy. The book may be found separately or in Berlin Noir, the compilation of all three books. March Violets is set in the darkening days of Hitler¿s Germany; the 1936 Olympics are just coming to town. Kerr¿s protagonist, Bernard Gunther, is a private detective hired by a very wealthy conservative (i.e. non-Nazi) German industrialist to find out who murdered his daughter and her Nazi husband, burned down their home, and stole a diamond necklace from their safe. Kerr¿s tale gets a bit convoluted and he is prone to excessive flights of language (usually intended to be funny, but falling flat to this reader). Kerr excels in recreating the complex world of Berlin, one of Europe¿s most cosmopolitan cities as it is being smothered by the Nazis. Gunther is an ex-cop and we meet his former police colleagues, several colorful underworld characters, and a number of revolting Nazis, too. (Although even among the Nazis, there are levels of malevolence; Goering is on one level, Himmler on another one altogether.). Gunther also falls into bed with beautiful women with an ease sure to make most men jealous.By the way, the title refers to the numerous new members the Nazi party gained after leveraged its 1933 electoral victory into total control of the German government. Older Nazis derided these latecomers as "March Violets."An intelligent and entertaining tale that makes one want to read the second volume. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love old school Noir - films and novels. Kerr gets the standard roles and lingo right. He has a true gift for simile, many of which are hilarious, mist if which are highly creative. The story is fairly typical for the form, if a bit convoluted. All Noir tropes are present and accounted for. Kerr's hero is markedly different from the Spades and Marlowes of the genre in that he is operating in the perilous environment of the Third Reich, the dark horror which is tightening it's grip on Berlin as the series begins. No gumshoe in 1930s LA, had to worry about winding up in a Gestapo interrogation room in addition to dealing with gangsters, scammers, bent cops, corrupt politicians, greedy executives and femmes fatales. This adds a very real undercurrent of tension, as well as a fascinating look at the madness of the era and the bewildered despair of the average citizens who realize their own culpability in ignoring the danger of Hitler's rise to power. The ev geniune, relentless fear permeates everyday life resulting in the gradual dehumanization of an entire nation. This a aspect alone makes thisa series worth reading because it provides the reader with an education about the times which cannot be felt or understood by the vast historical materials with we which we are most familiar; the equivalent personal perspectives we get are I overwhelmingly from non-German sources and active enemies of the Reich, both German and not. Bernie offers the insight of a passive enemy of the wrongness in his country, his own and that of others who feel powerless to take bold action, but who consistently try to resist becoming mindless drones for evil.
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BETKAT More than 1 year ago
Author is a good story teller and it had some good surprises. Often reminded me of the old "Mike Hammer" detective. Taking place in a very troubled time in Germany. Author wove factual accounts and people into his novel. This character, Bernie Gunther, is sharp and interesting and invites you to follow his next adventure. It was a good read.
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Man_Of_La_Book_Dot_Com More than 1 year ago
March Vio­lets by Philip Kerr is the first in a series of noir nov­els about Bernie Gun­ther, an ex-policeman who turned pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tor. March vio­lets refers to Ger­mans who went along with the Nazi vio­lence mindlessly. Bernard Gun­ther is a Berlin detec­tive, an ex-cop, who spe­cial­izes in track­ing down miss­ing per­sons, espe­cially Jews. A wealthy indus­tri­al­ist asks Bernie to track down the mur­der of his daugh­ter and son-in-law who were killed dur­ing a robbery. The inves­ti­ga­tion is any­thing but sim­ple and Bernie is soon thrown into a world of polit­i­cal scan­dals involv­ing art­work, Goer­ing, Himm­ler and the upper Ger­man class. Before he knows it, Bernie finds him­self watch­ing Jessie Ownes make a mock­ery out of Aryan racial supe­ri­or­ity the­ory, fight­ing Gestapo agents, shoot outs and as a pris­oner in Dachau. I read a few Bernie Gun­ther books before this one, but after I read the first one I ran out (mean­ing inside) to the store (Inter­net) and browsed (searched) for used copies of the series. Being a sin­gle minded Nean­derthal, as my beloved wife can attest to, I decided to read March Vio­lets first because… well… it’s first. The novel has a murder/mystery aspect but even more fas­ci­nat­ing is the sense of cop­ing with Nazi hor­rors on a daily base. The sense of the Nazis tak­ing over and destroy­ing souls feels very real in this novel and is an under­ly­ing hor­ror which is present on every page. The book’s psy­cho­log­i­cal aspect (intended or not) of just how Ger­mans went along numb­ingly with the Nazi atroc­i­ties is fas­ci­nat­ing and disturbing. Gun­ther is an inter­est­ing pro­tag­o­nist, a gray man who uses humor and sar­casm to cope with the end­less bureau­cracy, over­bear­ing admin­is­tra­tion, crim­i­nal ele­ments (both within and out­side the law) and the bru­tal­ity of the times. Gun­ther is never the smartest or strongest man in the room, but some­how he always man­ages to survive. The writ­ing is very good, but I have a feel­ing Mr. Kerr tried a bit too hard to make it a noir book and some­times sim­i­les stretch for a few sen­tences which make the read­ing labo­ri­ous. The overuse of sim­i­les and metaphors actu­ally takes away from the excel­lent and rich sto­ry­line. March Vio­lets by Philip Kerr is a clas­sic hard-boiled detec­tive story with a fast plot and bru­tal vio­lence. I’m look­ing for­ward to read­ing the rest of the series which I know will become better
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Love Bernie Gunther and this trilogy is brilliant.
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