The Lady from Zagreb by Philip Kerr is the 10th Bernie Gunther novel, nominated for the Edgar Award for “Best Novel.”
Philip Kerr’s historical crime series, featuring Berlin detective Bernie Gunther, spans over twenty years, three continents, countless double crosses, and more than a few gun-toting fräuleins. Though the bulk of the series revolves around events occurring around the time of WWII, Kerr does not write the series chronologically, choosing instead to jump around from the 1930s to the 1950s. It’s notable, though, that Kerr waited until the 9th and 10th books in the series, A Man Without Breath and his latest, The Lady from Zagreb, to tackle the later years of World War II, when the atrocities carried out by the Nazi government were becoming widely known, even to native Germans who were being purposefully kept in the dark.
One can understand why Kerr would hesitate to write about this time in German history. It’s one thing for Gunther, the sardonic, wise-cracking protagonist of the series, to hold down his job in Berlin as a private detective in the years leading up to the war, while also maintaining a strong dislike for the Nazi Party; it’s quite another challenge for Gunther, who travels in the highest circles of power, to maintain his disdain for the Nazis during the war without either being complicit in the crimes of the regime or being killed for insubordination.