Philip Kerr’s latest Bernie Gunther novel, A MAN WITHOUT BREATH is set in the Smolensk region of the Soviet Union in the spring of 1943. The ninth in the Gunther series the story involves the usual twists and turns of Kerr’s approach to the World War II noir, this time using the Soviet massacre of Polish officers in 1940 at the Katyn Forest as background. Kerr weaves in the NKVD, Abwehr, and German SD. Many of the characters are historical figures such as Joseph Goebbels and Admiral Wilhelm Canaris. The historical background is accurate as Kerr weaves in a love interest for Gunther and a number of other subplots. On the whole the book is a good read, though not up to Kerr’s usual quality. The snappy and sarcastic Gunther is ever present, but this time is a bit too preachy. The story is believable, that an NKVD agent has wormed his way into the good offices of Field Marshall Guenther Hans von Klug and tries to block the investigation of the Katyn massacre and provide intelligence for the Soviet Union as the Battle of Kursk was about to begin. The story revolves around a series of murder investigations and if you are a fan of this series I think you will enjoy it.

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