The Other Side of Silence (A Bernie Gunther Novel)
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From New York Times–bestselling author Philip Kerr, the much anticipated return of Bernie Gunther in a series hailed by The Daily Beast as “the best crime novels around today.”
Once I’d been a good detective in Kripo, but that was a while ago, before the criminals wore smart gray uniforms and nearly everyone locked up was innocent.” Being a Berlin cop in 1942 was a little like putting down mousetraps in a cage full of tigers.
The war is over. Bernie Gunther, our sardonic former Berlin homicide detective and unwilling SS officer, is now living on the French Riviera. It is 1956 and Bernie is the go-to guy at the Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat, the man you turn to for touring tips or if you need a fourth for bridge. As it happens, a local writer needs just that, someone to fill the fourth seat in a regular game that is the usual evening diversion at the Villa Mauresque. Not just any writer. Perhaps the richest and most famous living writer in the world: W. Somerset Maugham. And it turns out it is not just a bridge partner that he needs; it’s some professional advice. Maugham is being blackmailed—perhaps because of his unorthodox lifestyle. Or perhaps because of something in his past, because once upon a time, Maugham worked for the British secret service, and the people now blackmailing him are spies.
As Gunther fans know, all roads lead back to the viper’s nest that was Hitler’s Third Reich and to the killing fields that spread like a disease across Europe. Even in 1956, peace has not come to the continent: now the Soviets have the H-bomb and spies from every major power feel free to make all of Europe their personal playground.
easily cause enough trouble for Anne French to make sure she could never return to France. Or perhaps she would be extradited back to face a murder trial. But to carry off a story like that I would need to speak to someone else first. I would need to speak to a master storyteller. I would need to go and see Somerset Maugham. THIRTY-THREE I walked home, washed and shaved, changed into my working clothes, flung a suitcase into the back of my car, and drove up to the Villa Mauresque. It was
Mauresque. It was possible she would perceive my invitation as an affirmation of her own strategy: to learn bridge in order to meet Somerset Maugham. But it seemed equally possible that she would see it as some kind of betrayal. And while for a brief moment I considered simply not telling her in order to spare her feelings, it seemed to me that my being there at all could only help to facilitate her own invitation. Alternatively, I might be her spy and report on how things really were at the
concierge. My detective days are long gone. I have a hard job seeing off the merry widows at the hotel, let alone a professional blackmailer. Besides, I’m a little slow on the uptake these days. I’m still trying to work out how you know I used to be a detective.” “You were ten years with the Berlin police. You told us yourself.” “Yes, but it was someone else who told you I’d been the house bull at the Adlon Hotel.” I nodded. “But who? Wait, it was Hennig, wasn’t it? Harold Heinz Hennig. I saw
there is for everyone these days. We’re all of us having to make sacrifices in this terrible war that was forced upon us by our ideological enemies. But Harold tells me that you are not without diversions in Königsberg. That there is a lovely girl in the naval auxiliary you’ve been seeing. What’s her name?” “Irmela. Irmela Schaper.” “Good. I’m glad about that. A soldier should always have a sweetheart. Don’t you agree, Harold?” “I do indeed, sir. Especially now that I’ve seen the girl. She’s
GRU made an almighty row about it in Moscow with the State Defense Committee. Their man, working for the competition.” “Christ, when you put it like that, Sinbad, the comrades sound even more disorganized than we do.” “Except that we don’t happen to have an agent who happens to be the deputy chairman of the Soviet Committee for State Security. I’d give a great deal to be as disorganized as that.” “Yes. Think what it would be like to have a man like Alexander Shelepin working for MI6.” “If