Field Gray by Philip KerrField Gray by Philip Kerr

Field Gray

byPhilip Kerr

Hardcover | January 30, 2013

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Philip Kerr delivers a novel with the noir sensibility of Raymond Chandler, the realpolitik of vintage John le Carré, and the dark moral vision of Graham Greene.

"Bernie Gunther is the most antiheroic of antiheroes in this gripping, offbeat 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, author of A Rumor of 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

"Part of the allure of these novels is that Bernie is such an interesting creation, a Chandleresque knight errant caught in insane historical surroundings. Bernie walks down streets so mean that nobody can stay alive and remain truly clean."
-John Powers, Fresh Air (NPR)

Bernie on Bernie: I didn't like Bernhard Gunther very much. He was cynical and world-weary and hardly had a good word to say about anyone, least of all himself. He'd had a pretty tough war . . . and done quite a few things of which he wasn't proud. . . . It had been no picnic for him since then either; it didn't seem to matter where he spread life's tartan rug, there was always a turd on the grass.

Striding across Europe through the killing fields of three decades-from riot-torn Berlin in 1931 to Adenauer's Germany in 1954, awash in duplicitous "allies" busily undermining one another-Field Gray reveals a world based on expediency, where the ends justify the means and no one can be trusted. It brings us a hero who is sardonic, tough- talking, and cynical, but who does have a rough sense of humor and a rougher sense of right and wrong. He's Bernie Gunther. He drinks too much and smokes excessively and is somewhat overweight (but a Russian prisoner-of-war camp will take care of those bad habits). He's Bernie Gunther-a brave man, because when there is nothing left to lose, honor rules.
Philip Kerr is the author of many novels, but perhaps most important are the five featuring Bernie Gunther—A Quiet Flame, The One from the Other, and the Berlin Noir trilogy (March Violets, The Pale Criminal, and A German Requiem). He lives in London and Cornwall, England, with his family.
Title:Field GrayFormat:HardcoverDimensions:448 pages, 9.28 × 6.37 × 1.47 inPublished:January 30, 2013Publisher:PutnamLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0399157417

ISBN - 13:9780399157417


Rated 3 out of 5 by from Sometimes stale, sometimes profound Kerr's Bernie Gunther is one of my favorite characters in crime fiction, but this novel is less about crime and more about espionage and the horrible conditions of both the Russian and German POW camps of World War II. It is 1954 and Gunther makes to leave Cuba where he has been hiding for a few years (and where he was for the last novel, If the Dead Rise Not). While on a boat, he is arrested by the American Coast Guard, and thus begins a trip that includes being held and interrogated by both the American and French forces. During his imprisonment, he recalls the years before, during and after the war and, in particular, his "relationship" with Erich Mielke. It seems both the French and Americans want Mielke and they use Gunther to acquire the high ranking German communist. The book is at times confusing as everyone and their dog (including Gunther) are deep into the business of the double crossing master spy. Kerr's description of the POW's camp was disturbing (in a good way), but Kerr is a better mystery/crime writer than he is a John LeCarre.
Date published: 2012-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Full of Details Also published under the title “Field Grey” Book 7 in the Bernie Gunther mystery series In this story Bernie Gunther reflects on his past, the good the bad and the ugly. Trying to outrun his shadows has resulted in a lonely life; his personal and political associations have left him a man with a trouble conscience. This is one of Mr. Kerr’s darkest and most complex novels I have read so far. In the prologue, set in 1950s Cuba, Bernie is living the good life under an assumed name when his life is chattered once again by a local policeman who questions his true identity. In haste, Bernie attempts to leave Cuba by boat however he is intercepted by an American patrol and is taken to Guantanamo Bay for interrogation by the CIA. The intense questioning forces Bernie to eventually reveal his past, his war time activities under Heydrich as an SS field officer and his pre-war association with Eric Mielke prove to be a gold mine of information for his interrogators. He is eventually flown to Berlin to face the music and is given a simple choice: work for the French intelligence or hang for murder. His task is to meet POW’s returning to Germany and finger one particular French war criminal he is familiar with. With this we learn of another period in Bernie’s past as a German POW in Russia and how it comes back to haunt him. This seventh novel is set in Cuba, a Soviet POW camp, Paris and Berlin, it is a fast-paced and quick-action thriller. Bernie is portrayed as a pawn in a deadly game of espionage by various spy agencies of the Cold War era. The chapters are peppered with strategically placed flashbacks from 1931 to 1946, including events that occurred during the actual war years (all the other books took place before or after the war). Mr. Kerr paints a powerful picture of the struggles of the 1930s, the war and divided post-war Berlin. “Field Gray” is a brilliantly written novel full of details, a mix of fast-talking, hardboiled crime and historical events delivered in Gunther’s ironically humorous monologue. I am a huge fan of Mr. Kerr’s ability to stir one’s emotions page after page and can only imagine what it must have been like to have lived during such a troubled time.
Date published: 2012-01-14