It was with great sadness that Quercus learned of the death yesterday from cancer at 62 of Philip Kerr, one of its most successful and cherished authors. Philip has left an outstanding body of work: novels such as A Philosophical Investigation and Gridiron, books for which he was selected in 1993 by Granta as one of the Best of Young British Novelists. He has written several audacious standalone literary thrillers as well as an acclaimed series for younger readers, The Children of the Lamp.
Yet Philip’s crowning achievement is the Bernie Gunther series, starting with March Violets in 1989, thirteen historical novels about a Berlin detective set before, during and after the Second World War. A cynical, erudite, wise-cracking, fiendishly clever man, lover of women, hater of Nazis and yet obliged to work for them to survive, Bernie is a unique creation.
As a glowing review in the Sunday Times of the new Bernie Gunther novel put it: Greeks Bearing Gifts: ‘full of mordant humour, pacy action and rich, three-dimensional characters, confirms what Kerr’s fans have long known: that he has few, if any, rivals to match him among modern thriller writers.’ His novels have sold into 37 languages.
Just before he died Philip finished a fourteenth Bernie Gunther novel Metropolis, which will be published in the UK and US next year. His legions of fans are lucky that he had the strength and determination to complete it.
Philip was married to the author Jane Thynne and they have three children, William, Charlie and Naomi.