You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Bernie Gunther series gets even stronger

Bernie Gunther is back. He has worn numerous hats during this long running series by Philip Kerr; police detective, hotel detective, soldier, fake physician and in this latest book, “A Man Without Breath,” he’s a war crimes investigator.

Gunther is German. In the 1930s he was a homicide detective in Berlin when the Nazis came to power. He has never been a member of the Nazi Party. As the years passed he managed to survive, just barely.

This is the ninth book in this series. It opens on March 1, 1943. The tide of battle has begun to turn. One month earlier the Soviet Red Army routed the once invincible German Army at Stalingrad. The German occupiers along the Eastern Front are getting nervous. They realize that soon a vengeful Red Army will come sweeping through them.

The Germans make a shocking discovery in the Soviet region outside Smolensk. A wolf in the Katyn Forest was gnawing on what look to be human remains. In Berlin Propaganda Minister Goebbels is hoping that this gruesome news can be something that will be turned to their advantage.

He gives Bernie this assignment; go to Smolensk and find out who is actually buried at Katyn. Bernie had left the police force the year before to join the Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau. Scholars of history will understand the significance of Katyn. It is the place where the Red Army executed thousands of Polish Army officers and secretly buried them in mass graves a few years before that.

Devotees of Kerr’s series will anticipate that some predictable circumstances will transpire; Bernie will get sucked into a murder investigation, he will fall for a beautiful but ultimately unattainable woman and he will make some morally ambiguous choices. These things usually happen to him.

Bernie arrives in Smolensk and assesses the situation. He determines a number of things. The man in charge there, Field Marshall von Kluge, is an old fashioned member of the Prussian nobility. He likes to hunt and he has developed a special relationship with a Russian named Alok Dyakov, a man who seems to know the best places to hunt.

Bernie visits Katyn and verifies that hideous war crimes have transpired there. The Germans begin to unearth the mass graves.

Autopsies are ordered for those unfortunates who are being unearthed.

One of the people who is brought in to perform autopsies is Dr. Marianne Kramsta. Bernie observes that she “was wearing a very fetching gray crepe dress with a matching belt and long sleeves, and while she looked good, the plain fact of the matter is that she would have looked good wearing a truck tarpaulin.”

Our investigator has a discerning eye for beauty. He is smitten with Dr. Kransta. The attraction appears to be mutual. But Philip Kerr never allows Bernie’s amorous dalliances to last too long. A couple of new murder victims, German soldiers, turn up along a roadside. Bernie, the former homicide cop, investigates these fresher crimes.

He uncovers a trove of dark secrets. Kerr just keeps raising the ante with this series. And this is the best book yet.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Springfield Entertainment

Finns pay tribute to rock band Kiss
Finns pay tribute to rock band Kiss

Heavy metal fans in Finland decided to rock ’n’ roll all night and honor the band Kiss. >> Read more trending news Fans placed masks on four giant statues in the capital city of Helsinki to honor the hard-rock group, Yahoo reported. State-owned railway operator VR invited four fans of the band to paint black-and-white Kiss masks...
Young ballet dancers meet idol Misty Copeland
Young ballet dancers meet idol Misty Copeland

A group of young ballerinas from a Chicago dance troupe received a thrill of a lifetime when they appeared on Steve Harvey’s talk show Friday, the Huffington Post reported. >> Read more trending news The ballerinas from the Mayfair Performance Company on Chicago’s south side were surprised and delighted when Harvey introduced...
Seahawks’ Russell Wilson, Ciara welcome baby girl
Seahawks’ Russell Wilson, Ciara welcome baby girl

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his wife, pop singer Ciara, welcomed their daughter, Sienna Princess Wilson, who was born Friday night, ESPN reported. >> Read more trending news Sienna weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces, according to Ciara’s Instagram post. It's the couple's first child together, CNN reported. They...
This ‘Hunger Games’ exhibit is SO worth the drive
This ‘Hunger Games’ exhibit is SO worth the drive

If you were looking for an excuse for a mini-getaway that’s less than 3 hours away, your moment has come. “Hunger Games: The Exhibition” is on display now at The Frazier History Museum in Louisville, Kentucky through September 10, 2017. Louisville is about 2.5 hours from Dayton’s center, so it can easily be a day or weekend...
Comedian Bill Cosby reveals he is totally blind
Comedian Bill Cosby reveals he is totally blind

Comedian Bill Cosby said he is completely blind, USA Today reported. >> Read more trending news In his first interview in two years, Cosby told the National Newspaper Publishers Association news service that he woke up one morning two years ago and told his wife, Camille, “I can't see.” Cosby was later told by doctors that...
More Stories