You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myDaytonDailyNews.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myDaytonDailyNews.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myDaytonDailyNews.com.

A cold war spy thriller with sizzle


“The Other Side of Silence” by Philip Kerr (Putnam/Marian Wood, 400 pages, $27).

Philip Kerr publishes a new novel each year. Whenever another one comes out I push all my other books aside so that I can delve into his right away. I do have priorities. Kerr never lets me down.

The latest in his noir series that features the careworn yet still indomitable former Berlin detective Bernie Gunther is “The Other Side of Silence.” Devotees of these books know that Bernie could turn up anywhere along a timeline that runs from World War One to the mid-1950’s. A book might start in 1952 or 1937 or 1941. We also expect Bernie to have flashbacks to his time as a soldier during one of the world wars, or to his time as a POW in Russia, or to his stint as a hotel detective in Berlin.

As the book opens it is 1956-Bernie is living on the French Riviera under a fake name. He has gotten a job as the concierge for a luxury hotel. This is fairly typical of Bernie because he is more than anything else, a survivor. Bernie had been a diligent and loyal homicide detective in Berlin when the Nazis took power. He recognized rather quickly that the people who were now in charge could be far more dangerous than the murderers he was chasing.

Just down the road the English novelist Somerset Maugham resides in a magnificent villa. Maugham really existed-he was the James Patterson of his day. His books were best-sellers and he was wealthy because Hollywood was adapting his books for the big screen.

Bernie meets a beautiful woman. She claims to be doing research on the reclusive writer and wonders if Bernie knows Maugham or has access to him. Soon after that Bernie meets the famous man’s nephew and receives an invitation to come over to Maugham’s villa one evening to play bridge.

At this point this reviewer began to realize that even though there had just been a murder, the victim was a man Bernie knew from playing bridge, that this was not going to be a murder mystery after all. “The Other Side of Silence” is more cloak and dagger than that. This book is all about spy craft. It is an espionage novel.

Maugham had his public persona as an illustrious author and also a shadow side as a clandestine operative for British spy agencies. Maugham was homosexual as well, an orientation that was more acceptable to the French in those days, than to the British, who might have been rather inclined to prosecute him for his proclivities.

Bernie recognizes a German at the hotel. The man, a former Nazi with a fake passport remembers Bernie, too. This is a classic Philip Kerr moment; two men living under aliases have a chance encounter. What will happen next? Bernie has his secrets. He despises this man. A flashback to the war reveals why Bernie is feeling alarmed. Kerr has been writing this series since the 1980’s and it just keeps getting better with each new book.

Vick Mickunas of Yellow Springs interviews authors every Saturday at 7 a.m. and on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WYSO-FM (91.3). For more information, visit www.wyso.org/programs/book-nook. Contact him at vick@vickmickunas.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Cincinnati club shooting: Dispute ‘escalated into shots being fired’
Cincinnati club shooting: Dispute ‘escalated into shots being fired’

The investigation into the shooting inside a crowded Cincinnati night club that killed one and wounded 15 others early Sunday morning will take a long time, said Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley. No arrests had been made as of Sunday evening, and Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac couldn’t confirm if any of the possible shooters were among those...
Madonna’s twins get first Barbie dolls, singer posts video
Madonna’s twins get first Barbie dolls, singer posts video

Madonna’s twins got their first Barbie dolls this weekend and the entertainer is sharing it with the world. >> Read more trending news The “Material Girl” posted adorable video of newly adopted twin daughters, Estere and Stelle playing with the dolls. In the short video posted on Instagram, the girls sang the Finger Family song...
Fairfield school board’s newest member: Business background an asset
Fairfield school board’s newest member: Business background an asset

Long-time school volunteer Carrie O’Neal’s path to a seat on the governing board of Fairfield Schools started with tragedy. In December, veteran school board member Jerome Kearns died. The father of three, who was also assistant director of Butler County Job and Family Services, then had his elected school board seat filled by a unanimous...
Cincinnati’s deadly night club shooting: What we know now
Cincinnati’s deadly night club shooting: What we know now

Early Sunday morning, gunfire broke out at the Cameo nightclub in Cincinnati, killing one man and wounding more than a dozen others. Here are five things we know now about this deadly shooting: The man who died in the shooting has been identified as O’Bryan Spikes, 27, of Cincinnati. There were 15 other victims wounded by gunfire, including two...
3 things to know about Cameo, site of deadly night club shooting
3 things to know about Cameo, site of deadly night club shooting

At least one person has died and another 15 were injured following a shooting at Cameo Night Club in Cincinnati early Sunday morning, according to the Cincinnati Police Department. Police were called to Cameo in the 4600 block of Kellogg Avenue around 1:30 a.m. on a report of a shooting. Here’s what we know so far about the night club. Cincinnati...
More Stories