The final installment of Kerr's "Berlin noir" trilogy takes Bernie Gunther to Vienna in 1947. He spent the latter half of the war in the Soviet prisoner-of-war camp and is now married to Kirsten, who seems to be trading sex with U.S. Army officers for scarce goods. Both Berlin and Vienna are partly overrun by the Russian Army, so Germans, former Nazis, Allied occupiers, and our hero have the "Ivans" to contend with now. An old comrade from Gunther's days as a Berlin cop -- a dirty cop/smuggler named Becker -- has been accused and jailed in Vienna for the killing of an American officer, and he offers Bernie big money to investigate the case and spring him. The case throws Gunther into the topsy-turvy world of former Nazis hired by the U.S. to spy on the Russians, but who of course have certain agendas of their own, and there are almost more plot twists and betrayals than the reader can follow, leading to a shocking climax at a secluded vineyard estate with brutal Latvian guards, a wine press, and other figures from Bernie's past. A spectacular finish to a superb noir trilogy.
This report prepared by David Loftus