cover image Metropolis: A Bernie Gunther Novel

Metropolis: A Bernie Gunther Novel

Philip Kerr. Putnam/Wood, $28 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7352-1889-5

At the start of bestseller Kerr’s gripping 14th and final Bernie Gunther novel (after 2018’s Greeks Bearing Gifts), a prequel, Bernie’s skills as a vice cop earn him a place on the Berlin Murder Commission in the summer of 1928. In one of his first cases, Bernie collars a murderer within hours of the crime, but tougher is trying to identify and apprehend a serial killer, nicknamed Winnetou (after a character in a Karl May western), who has been scalping prostitutes. Then another serial killer, who writes taunting letters to the police signed Dr. Gnadenschuss, starts targeting the many maimed WWI veterans who struggle to survive on the streets of Berlin. Bernie has a hunch that the two killers are the same. This police procedural may lack the complex plotting of the best Gunther books, but Kerr (1956–2018) does a fine job of immersing the reader in the seamy side of Weimar Germany as Bernie crosses paths with such real-life folks as artist George Grosz and scriptwriter Thea von Harbou, the wife of filmmaker Fritz Lang. Fans will be sorry to see the last of the honest, wisecracking Bernie. Agent: Caradoc King, A.P. Watt (U.K.). (Apr.)

Correction: An earlier version of this review misspelled the title of the author's previous book.