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Kerr, P: Man Without Breath

A Bernie Gunther Novel

A Bernie Gunther Novel Band 9

Philip Kerr

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From the national bestselling author of Prague Fatale , a powerful new thriller that returns Bernie Gunther, our sardonic Berlin cop, to the Eastern Front.

Berlin, March, 1943. A month has passed since the stunning defeat at Stalingrad. Though Hitler insists Germany is winning the war, commanders on the ground know better. Morale is low, discipline at risk. Now word has reached Berlin of a Red massacre of Polish officers in the Katyn Forest near Smolensk. If true, the message it would send to the troops is clear: Fight on or risk certain death. For once, both the Wehrmacht and Propaganda Minister Goebbels want the same thing: irrefutable evidence of this Russian atrocity. To the Wehrmacht, such proof will soften the reality of its own war crimes in the eyes of the victors. For Goebbels, such proof could turn the tide of war by destroying the Alliance, cutting Russia off from its western supply lines.

Both parties agree that the ensuing investigation must be overseen by a professional trained in sifting evidence and interrogating witnesses. Anything that smells of incompetence or tampering will defeat their purposes. And so Bernie Gunther is dispatched to Smolensk, where truth is as much a victim of war as those poor dead Polish officers.

Smolensk, March, 1943. Army Group Center is an enclave of Prussian aristocrats who have owned the Wehrmacht almost as long as they've owned their baronial estates, an officer class whose families have been intermarrying for generations. The wisecracking, rough-edged Gunther is not a good fit. He is, after all, a Berlin bull. But he has a far bigger concern than sharp elbows and supercilious stares, for somewhere in this mix is a cunning and savage killer who has left a trail of bloody victims.

This is no psycho case. This is a man with motive enough to kill and skills enough to leave no trace of himself. Bad luck that in this war zone, such skills are two-a-penny. Somehow Bernie must put a face to this killer before he puts an end to Bernie.

Praise for A Man Without Breath

"This is the most intelligent brand of crime fiction, and there is moral complexity here in spades."- The Daily Beast

" A Man Without Breath is a masterful accomplishment that delivers a gripping mystery wrapped around meticulously researched history...It brings the deadly past to life."- The Arizona Republic

"Kerr just keeps raising the ante with this series. And this is the best book yet."- Dayton Daily News

"One of these days World War II will come to an end, and then how will we manage without Bernie Gunther, the cynical Berlin cop who has somehow contrived to stay alive and retain some vestige of personal integrity in Philip Kerr's harrowing historical thrillers?"- The New York Times Book Review

"This ninth Bernie Gunther tale (after Prague Fatale ) focuses on two months of 1943, mixing real-life characters with fictional ones. Kerr's historical knowledge and writing skills merge these elements seamlessly in a gripping story of murder, but it is Bernie who holds it all together even as he questions the absurdity of attempting normalcy during war. Mystery, historical fiction, and military history buffs will join existing Bernie fans in welcoming this latest installment in the series."- Library Journal

"Captivating . . . Kerr makes everything look easy, from blending history with a clever and intricate whodunit plot to powerful descriptions of cruelty."- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Kerr's sketch of Goebbels dazzles. The author pulls the reader down into the dark underground of Der Führer 's rabbit hole of totalitarian horror . . . [ A Man Without Breath ] masterfully explores morality's shadowy gray edge."- Kirkus

PHILIP KERR is the author of eight previous Bernie Gunther novels. Bestselling Field Gray was nominated for the 2012 Edgar Award for Best Novel. Kerr is also the much-loved author of the fantasy series Children of the Lamp. He lives in London.


Einband gebundene Ausgabe
Seitenzahl 480
Erscheinungsdatum 01.03.2013
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-0-399-16079-0
Reihe Putnam
Verlag Penguin LCC US
Maße (L/B/H) 23.6/15.9/4.8 cm
Gewicht 675 g

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  • Also by Philip Kerr

    Title Page





    1: MONDAY, MARCH 1, 1943

    2: WEDNESDAY, MARCH 3, 1943

    3: FRIDAY, MARCH 5, 1943

    4: MONDAY, MARCH 8, 1943

    5: WEDNESDAY, MARCH 10, 1943

    6: THURSDAY, MARCH 11, 1943

    7: FRIDAY, MARCH 12, 1943

    8: SATURDAY, MARCH 13, 1943

    9: SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 1943

    10: THURSDAY, MARCH 18, 1943

    11: SUNDAY, MARCH 21, 1943

    12: MONDAY, MARCH 22, 1943


    1: FRIDAY, MARCH 26, 1943

    2: SATURDAY, MARCH 27, 1943

    3: MONDAY, MARCH 29, 1943

    4: WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31, 1943

    5: THURSDAY, APRIL 1, 1943

    6: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 7, 1943

    7: THURSDAY, APRIL 8, 1943

    8: THURSDAY, APRIL 15, 1943

    9: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 28, 1943

    10: THURSDAY, APRIL 29, 1943

    11: FRIDAY, APRIL 30, 1943

    12: SATURDAY, MAY 1, 1943

    13: SUNDAY, MAY 2, 1943

    14: MONDAY, MAY 3, 1943

    An excerpt from The Lady From Zabreb


    Franz Meyer stood up at the head of the table, glanced down, touched the cloth, and awaited our silence. With his fair hair, blue eyes, and neoclassical features that looked as if they'd been carved by Arno Breker, Hitler's official state sculptor, he was no one's idea of a Jew. Half of the SS and SD were more obviously Semitic. Meyer took a deep, almost euphoric breath, gave a broad grin that was part relief and part joie de vivre, and raised his glass to each of the four women seated around the table. None were Jewish and yet, by the racial stereotypes beloved of the Propaganda Ministry, they might have been; all were Germans with strong noses, dark eyes, and even darker hair. For a moment Meyer seemed choked with emotion, and when at last he was able to speak, there were tears in his eyes.

    "I'd like to thank my wife and her sisters for your efforts on my behalf," he said. "To do what you did took great courage, and I can't tell you what it meant to those of us who were imprisoned in the Jewish Welfare Office to know that there were so many people on the outside who cared enough to come and demonstrate on our behalf."

    "I still can't believe they haven't arrested us," said Meyer's wife, Siv.

    "They're so used to people just doing what they're told," said his sister-in-law, Klara, "that they don't know what to do."

    "We'll go back to Rosenstrasse tomorrow," insisted Siv. "We won't stop until everyone in there is released. All two thousand of them. We've shown what we can do when public opinion is mobilized. We have to keep the pressure up."

    "Yes," said Meyer. "And we will. We will. But right now I'd like to propose a toast. To our new friend Bernie Gunther. But for him and his colleagues at the War Crimes Bureau, I'd probably still be imprisoned in the Jewish Welfare Office. And who knows where after that?" He smiled. "To Bernie."

    There were six of us in the cozy little dining room in the Meyers' apartment in Lützowerstrasse. As four of them stood up and toasted me silently, I shook my head. I wasn't sure I deserved Franz Meyer's thanks, and besides, the wine we were drinking was a decent German red-a Spätburgunder from long before the war that he and his wife would have done better to have traded for some food instead of wasting it on me. Any wine-let alone a good German red-was almost impossible to come by in Berlin.

    Politely I waited for them to drink to my health before standing up to contradict my host. "I'm not sure I can claim to have had much influence on the SS," I explained. "I spoke to a couple of cops I know who were policing your demonstration and they told me there's a strong rumor doing the rounds that most of the prisoners arrested on Saturday as part of the factory action will probably be released in a few days."

    "That's incredible," said Klara. "But what does it mean, Bernie? Do you th