I enjoy reading historical fiction and detective novels, and Philip Kerr’s Prussian Blue hits both genres. Philip Kerr was a British author who died in 2018 from bladder cancer. He wrote 14 historical thrillers in the detective Bernie Gunther series. Prussian Blue was longlisted for the Walter Scott Prize, a British Literary Award for historical fiction in 2018. The novel soothed my racing mind in the evenings and allowed me to focus on the plot and characters, putting me to sleep.
The book is set in Hitler’s Bavarian Alps retreat, Berghof. It is 1939, months before Germany invades Poland and a murder occurs on the veranda of the Berghof. Bernie Gunther is a Berlin detective that is sent there to solve the crime before Hitler’s 50th birthday party, which is scheduled to take place at the Berghof in a couple of weeks. There are a lot of villainous, greedy Nazis leaders doing unsavory things in and around the retreat. Gunther is an outsider, but a respected detective. Kerr either did a lot of research and/or lived in Germany because as a reader, I felt I was following the story from German eyes. Kerr has attention to detail and one of the highlights for me was learning the mistrust Hitler and his party had for Germans from Berlin. Hitler’s henchman and his base of operations were mostly in Bavaria. It would have been fascinating if the place was kept as a museum, but in some ways, it is good that it was destroyed. I love this photo of American troops celebrating in the ruins of the Berghof. So many lost lives, both German and American were planned in Berghof.
The book jumps between the murder investigation in 1939, the height of the National Socialist Party’s power in Germany, and 1956 when Bernie Gunther is being harassed by the East German Secret Police, the Stasi. The stories in both times have much action, murder, chase scenes, etc. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Prussian Blue.