Review: The Lady From Zagreb by Philip Kerr

Lady From Zagreb coverSeamlessly blending historical fact with thrilling fiction, THE LADY FROM ZAGREB plunges Bernie Gunther deep into morally ambiguous waters, as the Nazi-hater is drafted into a scheme by Goebbels, the Minister of Truth and Propaganda, to entice Dalia Dresner, a young actress, into resuming her filmmaking career. She’ll comply, on one condition: that Gunther travel to savaged Yugoslavia to find her estranged father and deliver a personalised letter. And while Gunther is no stranger to the horrors of war, and the bleak reality of Nazi Germany and its machinations, he is shocked by the level of depravity he witnesses during his journey, which climaxes with gunshots in Switzerland, alongside a stunning revelation.

Of course, the tenth Bernie Gunther novel is packed with the historical detail readers have come to expect, and demand. But whereas lesser writers might struggle with that baggage, of interspersing their research with a compelling narrative, Philip Kerr stylishly integrates the two elements. THE LADY FROM ZAGREB reads like a hard-boiled crime novel – the first-person perspective is delightfully Chandler-esque – and maintains its unrelenting pace throughout its four-hundred page length. History buffs will appreciate the lengths Kerr goes to in order to maintain the sanctity of his yarn, while readers merely seeking a good crime novel will be sated, rather than overwhelmed by the heavy research that was evidently undertaken.

It is Gunther himself, the sardonic, morally-comprised protagonist, who ultimately elevates THE LADY FROM ZAGREB from its competition. It is impossible not to feel sympathy for poor Bernie, a proud German who is disenchanted by his nation, as he struggles for equilibrium among the Nazi party, the Gestapo, the SS, the SD, and the Croatian Fascists, the Ustase. A good man, whose moral compass is forced askew because of external circumstances. His eleventh escapade can’t come soon enough.

4 Stars Excellent

ISBN: 9781782065821
Format: Paperback (234mm x 153mm x mm)
Pages: 464
Imprint: Quercus Publishing
Publisher: Quercus Publishing
Publish Date: 7-Apr-2015
Country of Publication: United Kingdom