• The Lady From Zagreb
  • Prayer
  • A Man Without Breath
  • Prague Fatale
  • Field Gray
  • If The Dead Rise Not
  • A Quiet Flame
  • The One From The Other
  • Berlin Noir
  • Hitlers Peace
  • A Philosophical Investigation
Field Gray

Meet one of the great protagonists in thriller literature. Bernie is a tough-talking cop who spent eleven years as a homicide detective in Berlin’s Kripo, where he witnessed just about every form of deviance, corruption, and gratuitous violence known to man. In 1933, as the National Socialists took power and began purging non–party members from the force, he jumped ship and set himself up as a private detective. He’d had a wife but lost her to the influenza pandemic, and he’s had a roving eye ever since, but not much luck in long-term relationships. It’s hard to have long-term relationships in Nazi Germany when so many people keep disappearing. Still, that’s been good for business.
But in 1940, Heydrich dragoons him into the SS, and garbed in its field gray uniform, Bernie soon finds himself deep in the bloodbath that is the Eastern Front.

Spanning twenty-five tumultuous years—encompassing street riots in Berlin in 1931 and Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, the fall of France in 1940 and the German defeat at Stalingrad—Field Gray strides across the killing fields of Europe, ultimately arriving at a divided Germany, where former allies are now at one another’s throats. It is the height of the Cold War: nothing is what it purports to be, and no one is to be trusted. Because Bernie knows uncomfortable things, secret things, he has become a marked man. He has also become cunning in the arts of deception. Maybe his time in a Russian POW camp taught him that.

As Bernie plays his enemies off one against another, he enters a tournament of wits in which nothing less than life is the prize. Bernie is still cracking wise, but the jokes are more mordant in this brave new world, in which the ends justify the means and expediency trumps everything.

Mailing List

Reviews

FIELD GRAY is a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Novel of 2011
Mystery Writers of America
FIELD GRAY named one of The Washington Post's "50 Notable Fiction Books of 2011"
The Washington Post
FIELD GRAY named one of the Best Books of 2011 (Mystery/Thriller) by Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly
Bernie Gunther is a wise-cracking homicide detective, but in his world, the bad guys he moves among aren't a gumshoe's ordinary adversaries. In Philip Kerr's history-based crime thrillers, the setting is Nazi Germany [and] Gunther-s adversaries--whom he must not just battle but also accommodate in order to survive--include the likes of SS Reichfuhrer Heinrich Himmler, architect of the Holocaust, [and] the evil is not consigned to the back of the stage. It's everywhere, and Gunther's moments of heroism are unavoidably tinged with moral ambiguity.
Steve Dougherty, The Wall Street Journal
Field Gray is the best of a brilliant and beautifully written series, but don't start it first. Start at the beginning with the Berlin Noir trilogy and stay for the full course.
Margaret Cannon, Toronto Globe & Mail
Gunther has a conscience that forces him to make some morally ambiguous decisions . . . And that's mainly what Field Gray is all about: where we draw the line on good versus evil when our own safety looks shaky. Watching Gunther draw those lines is especially interesting because, on the surface, he's a cynical, wise-cracking cop. But underneath, he lives by strict moral standards---except when circumstances dictate otherwise. Time and again, Gunther will make readers sit up with surprise.
Harry Levins, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Field Gray is the darkest and most disturbing of Philip Kerr's novels featuring Bernie Gunther.
Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
The Bernie Gunther who evolves through the double-crosses and derring-do of "Field Gray" is heroic and deeply conflicted...Shades of the moral ambiguity of some of Graham Greene's or John le Carre's more memorable characters are here, as is the spirit of Raymond Chandler's knight-errant, Philip Marlowe...Kerr's ability to blend the elements of mystery and spy thriller into one satisfying package means "Field Gray" the best in a long line of great entries in the series, one that should lift its author to new levels of popular and critical acclaim even as it ushers its flawed knight-errant into the Cold War.
Los Angeles Times
The great strength of the novel is Kerr's overpowering portrait of the war's horrors. . . .The glue holding it all together is Bernie himself, our battered, defiant German Everyman. . . .Bernie's a-plague-on-all-your-houses mind-set leads to the novel's truly shocking ending, one that left me with no idea what lies ahead for him, only the devout hope that his story will continue.
Washington Post
Just as youth is wasted on the young, history is wasted on historians. It ought to be the exclusive property of novelists - but only if they are as clever and knowledgeable as Philip Kerr. Only if, like Kerr, they can take historical epochs - a threadbare Germany in the wake of World War I, the ominous rise of the Nazis, the bleak aftermath of World War II in a stunned and fractured Europe - and use them as color and music for a series of tart, intelligent thrillers.
Chicago Tribune
Gunther is stamped in the classic mold: a smart, sardonic, hardheaded skirt-chaser with something of a mean streak. But here's the twist: Gunther quit the force in disgust after Adolf Hitler moved in, but somehow survived...."Field Gray" gives Kerr a chance to address some knotty, ambiguous questions of loyalty and duty in wartime. I can't give away too much of this riveting book's secrets, except to say: Gunther's no angel, but he's not the devil either.
Seattle Times
"As always in a Bernie Gunther title (If the Dead Rise Not), the plotting is twisty, the writing crisp, the atmosphere indisputably noir. Fans of hard-boiled PI novels and all readers interested in the dirty history of Nazi Germany will love this book. They don't come any better."
Library Journal (starred review)
"Kerr crafts some of the finest mystery novels in contemporary fiction, noir classics set against the multiple backdrops of WWII's far-reaching stages. . . .Painstakingly researched and beautifully written, as always, this is a fine addition to a fine series."
BookPage
A complicated, clever thriller, beautifully written and evocative.
The Literary Review
This is a book about the Second World War like no other, seen through the eyes of a sympathetic character, dressed in a uniform emblematic of evil. Both gripping and intellectually challenging.
The Times
As a portrayal of the conflict between practical necessity and moral principle, told with a mixture of interrogation and action and set in the corrupting world of international espionage, this is far more illuminating and enjoyable than the season’s other big thriller, John Le Carré’s Our Kind Of Traitor.
Daily Express
Kerr is a master of evoking the spirit of the age, especially when describing the dark, turbulent days of Weimar Berlin. He has clearly done his homework and brings an admirable whiff of authenticity to proceedings, providing historical characters and real events to punctuate his story. Kripo chief Arthur Nebe and head of the Stasi Erich Mielke feature strongly, for instance, and the narrative is skilfully woven into the genuine events of the period, from the political violence of inter-war Berlin to the awful nemesis of German POWs in the post-war Soviet Union.
Financial Times
The role of the Left in 20th-century Germany is a key thread running through Philip Kerr’s new novel FIELD GREY, the eighth in a series of thrillers featuring Bernie Gunther, cop-turned-private-eye operating in mid-century Berlin. His last book, IF THE DEAD RISE NOT, won the Ellis Peters Award. The novels mix fast-talking, hardboiled crime writing and ambitious, well-researched historical fiction delivered in Gunther’s witty, sardonic monologue. If Kerr has fun giving cameos to leading Nazis (Goebbels is amusingly described as ‘a malignant goblin on his best behaviour’) he gets away with it because he knows his stuff. FIELD GREY is ambitious in approaching these complex questions, and Kerr does it with flourishes of daring (at one point, Kerr has Gunther imprisoned in the very cell where Hitler wrote Mein Kampf, conversing with the Fuhrer’s ghost). Though there is no shortage of crimes in this book, it all but leaves the conventions of crime writing behind to do something more complex and perhaps more satisfying.
The Scotsman
This is the seventh outing for Kerr’s laconic, skeptical German policeman Bernie Gunther whose life in Germany before, during and after World War II has exquisitely illuminated the first six novels…. Kerr’s attention to detail and command of the intricacies of German history has made Gunther one of the great creations of modern thriller writing. Every book is rich, compelling, beautifully written and with a central character that it’s impossible not to admire.
Daily Mail
With great audacity, Kerr junks all the usual suspense techniques in a narrative that is less to do with a body count than with the protagonist’s collusion with his corrupt society. What is more, in FIELD GREY the reader is asked to draw his or her own conclusions. It is a daring (perhaps foolhardy) move, but Kerr has shown that he is not averse to such risk-taking…. The new book may downplay the tension of earlier Gunther offerings, but its aspirations are markedly higher. The novel deals with his hero’s military service in the SS. Kerr has not revealed this side of Gunther before—perhaps because it would risk alienating readers…. There is a price to pay for revealing this part of Gunther’s career. It would be safer to distance the protagonist from his monstrous bosses but Kerr eschews the easy option and invites us to make up our own minds about Gunther’s compromised actions. Bernie is a member of the SS and kills partisans—but we are reminded that the partisans were killing German soldiers. It is a brave tactic, but a measure of Kerr’s skill that such ambiguity makes FIELD GREY so challenging a novel.
The Independent
In FIELD GREY, Kerr finally fills in Gunther’s war years by letting him get caught by the Americans in a smuggling operation off the coast of pre-Castro cuba. Gunther’s interrogation provides a plot that melds Nazism, the Stasi and the CIA in a brilliantly crafted challenge to the stereotypical received history of the Second World War: a thriller that will challenge preconceptions and stimulate the little grey cells.
The Times (London), selecting FIELD GRAY as a Thriller of the Year
Bernie Gunther is the most anti-heroic of anti-heroes in this gripping, off-beat thriller. It’s the story of his struggle to preserve what’s left of his humanity, and his life, in a world where the moral bandwidth is narrow, Satanic evil at one end, cynical expediency at the other.
Philip Caputo
Far too many detective novel series run out of steam after the first few books but Kerr’s Bernie Gunther stories are a happy exception to the rule—they just get better…. A richly detailed portrait of a decent man fighting his way through a series of impossible situations.
The Mail on Sunday (London)
That is the particular strength of Philip Kerr: these are books which could be entered plausibly for the Man Booker Prize, and yet have been saluted by crimes writers, most recently the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Crime Award.
Antonia Fraser, The Lady (UK)
The flashbacks are easily followed, from pre-war Berlin to the murderous hell of the 1941 Eastern Front to postwar slave-labor camps behind the Iron Curtain. Those dealing with Gunther’s search for a German communist in 1940 France are truly revealing, especially the descriptions of historical places like the concentration camps in Vichy France. While some might quibble over occasional long sequences of dialogue that would be better served with tags, Kerr writes Gunther as he should be—world-weary, sardonic and as independent as an introspective man might be as he ricochets between murderous criminals, hell-bent Nazis or revenge-minded communists. The double-double cross denouement suggests Gunther will live to fight another day. An accomplished thriller.
Kirkus Reviews
Bernie Gunther’s past catches up with him in Kerr’s outstanding seventh novel featuring the tough anti-Nazi Berlin PI who survived the Nazi regime (after If the Dead Rise Not)….Series aficionados and new readers alike will take comfort knowing that Kerr is hard at work on the next instalment.
Publishers Weekly (starred review)