Metropolis (A Bernie Gunther Novel Book 14)

Written by Philip Kerr
Review by Elisabeth Lenckos

An elegy for Bernie… Philip Kerr’s final installment of his masterly Berlin Noir mysteries takes his hero back to his beginnings as a cop on the streets of the metropolis during the Weimar Era. Recently promoted to the city’s Murder Squad, Bernie searches for a killer, who has graduated from murdering prostitutes to executing the republic’s war-injured, homeless veterans, parting the seas between Berliners who want the murderer brought to justice, and others that applaud his ‘cleansing’ program. In the end, Bernie discovers more than the assassin’s identity, as his investigation reveals a truth about Berlin, and the way the city doles out justice, that is far more terrifying than a mere manhunt. What future is there for a place, where criminal gangs have the upper hand, and exterminating angels mask themselves as officials? While Bernie tries to make sense of the confusion that is 1920s Berlin, Hitler and the Nazis loom large on the horizon.

When Philip Kerr died in March 2018, the world mourned the passing of a fine author, who in his most ingenious creation transposed the quintessential gumshoe detective from the streets of North America to the alleys of Berlin, where he investigates, up close, the nature of institutionalized evil and the way it co-opts and corrupts ‘regular’ citizens. In this, his final work, Bernie returns as a young man, who cares about Berlin’s underdogs and refuses to yield to the cynicism that divides ‘worthy’ from ‘unworthy’ lives. As he traverses Weimar Berlin, Bernie travels from its elites to its demi-monde, supplying the city’s most famous director, Fritz Lang, with the idea for a great film classic. Metropolis ends with a wink to its most glorious creation: an art that outlasted Hitler and enthralls us to this day.