Review: Field Grey – Philip Kerr

5 of 5 stars

Series: Bernie Gunther 7

My version: Peperback
Historical Fiction Germany

Cuba, 1954

A man doesn’t work for his enemies unless he has no choice. So when Bernie Gunther finds himself forced to work for French intelligence, it was that or hang for murder.. His job is to meet and greet POWs returning to Germany, and to find a French war criminal who has been posing as a German Wehrmacht officer. The French are anxious to catch up with this man and deal with him in their own ruthless fashion. But Bernie’s past is about to catch up with him – in a way he could never have foreseen.

It’s impossible not to like Bernie Gunther. In the resourceful, bad luck-prone, ingenious, sharp witted, wise-cracking, escape artist, he has created the absolute perfect character for Historical Fiction. I can think of no flaws, no irritations at all. He’s the guy you would hope could be there if you’d have been where he is, was.

Kerr uses him as a vehicle not just for his period jokes and wise-cracks, but as a way of looking at many of the unsavoury aspects of the Germans before, during and after World War 2. This one starts, as above, in 1954, but we’re soon back with Bernie in war-time Germany, as events in 1954 set off both memorise of and turn out to have had their roots in the earlier phases of Bernies life.

Even I can see that Field Grey (a reference to the colours of the German Army officer’s uniform at this time), is incredibly well plotted. I’d say this is – as I’m, here in the series, though have all the subsequent books in wait – the best one so far. It really is almost a work of art. Full of reflection, incident, and fine, fine writing.

And, as bonus for me, I’d say PK has read Private Schultz at some point.

You can buy Field Grey from

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