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Greeks Bearing Gifts

Bernie Gunther, Book 13
Lu par : Jeff Harding
Durée : 13 h et 16 min
4 out of 5 stars (2 notations)

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Description

1957, Munich. Bernie Gunther's latest move sees him working for an insurance company. Sent to Athens to investigate a claim from a fellow German for a ship that has sunk, Bernie takes an instant dislike to the claimant. 

When he discovers the ship in question once belonged to a Greek Jew deported to Auschwitz, he’s convinced the sinking was no accident. Then the claimant is found dead. 

Bernie is strong-armed into helping the Greek police with their investigation. Who is behind the murder, and why?

©2018 Thynker Ltd (P)2018 W.F. Howes Ltd

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Notations

Global

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 étoiles
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Interprétation

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 étoiles
    2
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Histoire

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 étoiles
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Trier par:
  • Global
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Interprétation
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    3 out of 5 stars

Déception après Russian Blue

Beaucoup de parlotte et de réflexion sans intérêt. Du remplissage par rapport à une histoire assez faible

Trier par :
Trier par:
  • Global
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Interprétation
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    2 out of 5 stars
Image de profile pour Jean N
  • Jean N
  • 01/12/2019

Superficial, anachronistic and unconvincing

I got this book mainly because I am of Greek origin and am familiar with the (real) Merten affair, which is what the book is based on. But it is a curious animal. A story in English, about a German detective, that plays mostly in 1957 Greece. A lot of things don’t work and a huge suspension of disbelief is required to get into this story.

To begin with, Bernie Ganz speaks like a hardboiled tough American detective – a Philip Marlowe of sorts. Which has you wondering exactly how this is supposed to have sounded in German. I somehow get the feeling that the author is not all that familiar with the German language and Germany, beyond a superficial awareness of the Nazi-era. Small things give him away. I noticed that he keeps going on about Mercedes and BMWs which, of course, are the luxury marques of 2018 Germany. But back in 1957 BMW was not all that big and, in fact, it nearly went under at the end of the 1950s.

But it is when we get to Greece, which I’m much more familiar with, that the whole thing breaks down completely. There are all sorts of trivial factual errors, of which I will list but a few: Athens’ taxis were not yellow back in 1957 – in fact they were no particular colour. ALPHA bank did not exist back then – it was called something else, was quite insignificant and I’m pretty confident it did not have a branch in Corinth. Half the Greek names are completely impossible. Papakyriakopoulos and Leventis are real names but Garlopis? And Telesilla? I actually had to Google that one to see that it refers to an Ancient Greek poetess! Garlopis and Bernie’s car is particularly funny. An Oldsmobile (the car Garlopis initially turns up in) would not have stood out that much in the Greece of the time, although it might have been mistaken for a taxi. Back then, most Athens taxis were big American cars. But the one they exchange it with, supposedly so as not to stand out, a Rover P4 (by the way, that is only a factory designation, they were not actually called that), boy that would have been a real rarity in Greece! I don’t think they were ever imported. And, oh, by the way, the P4 did NOT ever have a V8 engine, Rover started using a V8 engine in some of its cars (never the P4) only in 1967!

More importantly, all the Greeks that turn up are not convincing at all. No, Greeks are not obsessed with ancient Greek mythology and most normal Greeks, both back then and now, would not even recognise the references to ancient Greek history or mythology the characters in the book pepper their remarks with, let alone routinely weave them in their speech. There is also a great deal of anachronism. Back in 1957 nobody was that obsessed with the EEC, so the fact that most characters keep referring to it, foretelling that it will help Germany dominate the rest of Europe (assuming that this is was it did) is extremely, and foolishly, anachronistic. In fact, back then what Greeks were obsessed about was the Greek Cypriots’ struggle against British colonial rule and for Union with Greece. Yet there is no hint of that at all in the book. In fact, at the time, contrary to the advice Ganz gets, it might have been safer to speak German in Greece rather than English, given the Brits unpopularity.

And what about the story in all that? It bears a very distant relation to the facts of the Merten affair but, in and of itself, that would not have been a problem, if there was at least a good mystery. But there is no real hint of that. We more or less know from the beginning who the killer is and most of the revelations as the book progresses are not all that spectacular. All in all, too unrealistic and superficial for my taste.