The right book can instantly transport you to anywhere — and anytime — in the world. Every Thursday, we recommend one of our favorite books with a strong sense of place so you can see the sights, meet remarkable people, go on exciting adventures, and feel big feelings. Bonus: You don't even have to put on pants.
This post is part of our 'Weekend Getaway' series.
This weekend, travel back to the 1940s with detective Bernie Gunther in The Lady from Zagreb. You’ll visit Yugoslavia, go toe-to-toe with Joseph Goebbels — and oh! solve a murder.
Philip Kerr is one of the masters of the noir thriller; imagine Raymond Chandler set in WWII Germany. In his antihero Bernie Gunther, he created a character with his own code of ethics, but whom you’d always want in your corner.
Bernie is your classic good man in bad circumstances. He’s a former homicide detective who’s now entrenched in the enemy camp. His beloved hometown of Berlin is infested with Nazis, and Bernie is forced to play along if he wants to live. Watching Bernie eventually rise to the occasion is always a rewarding and pulse-pounding experience.
Even at his lowest points — usually when his life hangs precariously in the balance — Bernie has a wry sense of humor that keeps even the blackest plot points from feeling too dark: ‘On the whole it’s not wise to remind the devil that he’s the devil, especially when we were getting on so well.’
In this 10th adventure with Bernie Gunther (no need to read the series in order), it’s the summer of 1942. Bernie is given an offer he can’t refuse. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda, orders him to find the father of Dalia Dresner, a glamorous actress and femme fatale.
Bernie’s search takes him to Yugoslavia, where two facts seal his fate: He learns there’s more to the brutality in this volatile country than he realized, and he is hopelessly, desperately, tragically in love.
Dalia picked up her negligee. She didn’t need my help, it wasn’t very heavy. — Philip Kerr
This noir mystery (432 pages) was published in April of 2015 by G.P. Putnam's Sons. The book takes you to WWII Berlin and Yugoslavia. Melissa read The Lady from Zagreb and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.
Bookshop.org is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.
Top image courtesy of Phant / Shutterstock.
Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!
Can you help us? If you like this article, share it your friends!
Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.
Strong Sense of Place is a listener-supported podcast. If you like the work we do, you can help make it happen by joining our Patreon! That'll unlock bonus content for you, too — including Mel's secret book reviews and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.
This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.
We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.
This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.
Content on this site is ©2023 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.