Oh, Lord, spare me the overwrought metaphor!

Berlin Noir: March Violets / The Pale Criminal / A German Requiem - Philip Kerr

Couldn’t finish.


Let me explain: I’m not a devoted fan of the mystery genre though I’m thankful to GoodReads for introducing me to some worthy authors in that field that I would otherwise never have read. In the normal course of affairs, I probably would not have picked this book up even though the premise – a detective working in Nazi and post-war Germany – was promising. However, I work with a woman who likes this sort of thing and I keep my eye open for books to recommend or get for Xmas gifts.


In this case, I definitely can’t recommend this author to her, nor to anyone else.


The writing is not compelling or really very good. As a reader I was constantly being thrown out of the story by Kerr’s clumsy and overwrought metaphors. Perhaps I’m missing the point. Perhaps Kerr is parodying the noir genre with passages like this:


Back in the bedroom, she was still standing there, waiting for me to come and help myself. Impatient of her, I snatched her knickers down, pulling her onto the bed, where I prised her sleek, tanned thighs apart like an excited scholar opening a priceless book. For quite a while I pored over the text, turning the pages with my fingers and feasting my eyes on what I had never dreamed of possessing (pp. 68-9).




The concierge was a snapper who was over the hill and down a disused mine-shaft. Her hair was every bit as natural as a parade goose-stepping down the Wilhelmstrasse, and she’d evidently been wearing a boxing-glove when she’d applied the crimson lipstick to her paperclip of a mouth. Her breasts were like the rear ends of a pair of dray horses at the end of along hard day. Maybe she still had a few clients, but I thought it was a better bet that I’d see a Jew at the front of a Nuremberg pork-butcher’s queue (p. 97).


I stuck with it for more than a hundred pages but in the end, I wasn’t interested enough to continue.