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Research by Philip Kerr

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The author is renowned for period spy tales starring Bernie Gunther, all highly recommended, so the standard of this murder mystery is guaranteed, in fact it is extremely difficult to put down. It’s about ghost writing. A couple of copy writers for a publishing firm band together and produce a string of bestsellers under the name of one John Houston (rather as James Patterson does today), so when John wants to sit back and enjoy his wealth folk are not pleased. Now it’s the other one’s turn to make a fortune as the murders start. This is a clever book, almost two stories in one – the ghost writing and the murders – very well done; an excellent read.

If you like Philip Kerr you might also like to read books by Alan Furst, C. J. Sansom and David Thomas.

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. Philip Kerr is one of those writers whose skills are so prodigious that it is difficult to know where to start praising him first. So let’s start with his versatility. His signature series may be his marvellous books featuring Bernie Gunther, but this standalone is quite distinct from his other work and is among his very best books. Novelist John Houston (one wonders why Kerr chose a name so close to that of the celebrated film director) is one of the richest men in the world, and something of a one-man book production factory – how many ghost-writers are involved? But his life is thrown into turmoil when his wife is discovered murdered at their well-upholstered apartment in Monaco. He is the prime suspect – and chooses to disappear…
~ Barry Forshaw


Research by Philip Kerr

The rolling strip across the bottom of the screen shouts the news: BESTSELLING NOVELIST JOHN HOUSTON'S WIFE FOUND MURDERED AT THEIR LUXURY APARTMENT IN MONACO. Houston is the richest writer in the world, a book factory publishing many bestsellers a year - so many that he can't possibly write them himself. He has a team that feeds off his talent; ghost writers, agents, publishers. So when he decides to take a year out to write something of quality, a novel that will win prizes and critical acclaim, a lot of people stand to lose their livelihoods. Now Houston, the prime suspect in his wife's murder, has disappeared. He owns a boat and has a pilot's licence - he could be anywhere and there are many who'd like to find him. First there's the police. If he's innocent, why did he flee? Then again, maybe he was set up by one of his enemies. The scenario reads like the plot of one of Houston's million-copy-selling thrillers...

About the Author

Philip Kerr was born in Edinburgh in 1956, and lives in London. He is the author of March Violets, The Pale Criminal, A German Requiem, A Philosophical Investigation, and Dead Meat. He has also edited two anthologies. In 2011 Philip Kerr was shortlisted for the CWA Dagger in the Library, awarded to an author for a body of work.

Maxim Jakubowski's view on BERNIE GUNTHER...

A German cop who has moved from the Nazi 1930s to the post-war period, with mixed loyalties but a strong sense of duty which often gets him into trouble. A QUIET FLAME was his 5th outing and IF THE DEAD RISE NOT appeared next in September 2009.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th November 1999


Philip Kerr

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Crime / Mystery
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