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Winnie the Pooh is not the only character that got his nose caught in the honey jar. Take the background story of Bernie Gunther - before the war started, he was a highly respected homicide investigator in Berlin. Once the Nazis took control, Bernie had to swallow his pride and political beliefs in order to survive. His comfort level went from a possible 10 to well below zero.

Gunther's goal became to stay below the radar of the maniacal regime that was slowly destroying his world. He was forced to wear a uniform and become part of the military machine. He went from being the "Berlin Bull" to the "Wehrmacht Wimp."

In March of 1943, the Wehrmacht High Command sends their prized criminal investigator to Smolensk to verify if thousands of Polish officers were executed and buried in a frozen field. Dr. Joseph Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda, smells a possible public relations coup. If Goebbels can get proof that the Russians mass-murdered thousands of defenseless enemy officers, the world's spotlight, fixed on the Nazi nation's atrocities, will dim drastically.

The last thing that Gunther wants is to be anywhere near the spotlight.  He has positioned himself well offstage and only wants his world back - as it once was. When he lands in Smolensk, no one is happy to see him...not the Germans in command of the invasion force, nor the Russians aiding them.  Even the Gestapo resents an "outsider" being assigned to investigate a matter that appears to have no major consequence in the Fatherland conquering Mother Russia.

Resentment leads to murder and cover-up. Gunther is forced to make some difficult decisions to remain breathing; however, he finds time to fall hopelessly in love with one of the forensic team sent to aid his investigation. . .but even that small prize has its steep price tag.   

Philip Kerr has written several books in this series.  It is not important to read them in order, since the outcome of WWII is well documented.  The writing is rich and the characters are complex.  If historical fiction is what you are looking for and you haven't tried Kerr yet, it is well worth the experience.

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