Maigret Takes a Room, 1951 (Inspector Maigret #37) by Georges Simenon (Trans: Shaun Whiteside)

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Penguin Classics, 2016. Format: Paperback. Length: 176 pages. First published in French as Maigret en meublé by Presses de la Cité, 1951. This translation was first published in 2016. ISBN: 978-0-241-20684-3. ASIN: B01FTGII4E. There is a previous English translation by Robert Brain, published in 1960, under the same title aka Maigret Rents a Room.

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707Book description: When one of his best inspectors is shot, Maigret decides to book himself into Mademoiselle Clément’s well-kept Paris boarding house nearby in order to find the culprit.

My take: While on night duty keeping an eye on a robbery suspect, Janvier is taken to Cochin hospital severely wounded. Fortunately, his life is going to be soon out of danger. ‘He [Maigret] didn’t want to ask Lucas what had happened in front of Madame Janvier. He couldn’t leave them either. Apart from Lucas –his right hand man– Janvier had always been his favourite inspector. He had had him with him as a very young man, as Lapointe was now and he still sometimes called him young Janvier.’ This was a case in which Maigret had been barely involved personally. Five days earlier, two men went into a little night club in Montparnasse,the Stork, when it was about closing time and robbed the evening revenues. Three hours later, thanks to a trifling detail, one of the robbers could be identified, a young man by the name of Émile Paulus who lived hosted at Mademoiselle Clément’s boarding house on Rue Lhomond. The landlady claimed that she had not seen him coming out of the house, assuming that he must have left the house early in the morning. The boarding house was searched on the first day and went under surveillance for four days, with no result at all, up until Janvier was shot on his chest.  Maigret, taking advantage that his wife is out of Paris caring her ailing sister, decides to book himself into Mademoiselle Clément’s boarding house. Soon Maigret finds out where Paulus was hiding. But when it all seems to be over, we realise that, in fact, it was only beginning.

As it is often the case in Maigret mysteries, both the investigation and the solution of the case relies fundamentally in a careful attention to the most insignificant details together with a deep knowledge of human nature. What I particularly enjoyed in this story is the excellent portrait of the characters involved. In a sense, what we find in this instalment is the most human dimension of Maigret and, if only for this reason, it’s worth reading. 

My rating:  A (I loved it)

About the author: Georges Simenon wrote one hundred and ninety-one novels with his name, and an indeterminate number of novels and stories published under pseudonym, as well as memoirs and dictated texts. Commissaire Maigret is the protagonist of seventy-five of these novels and thirty-one short stories, all published between 1931 and 1972. Famous throughout the world and already recognized as a master, today no one doubts that he is one of the best writers of the 20th century,

About the translator: Shaun Whiteside has translated over fifty books from German, French, Italian and Dutch, including novels by Amélie Nothomb, Luther Blissett, Wu Ming and Marcel Möring. His translations of Freud, Musil, Schnitzler and Nietzsche are published by Penguin Classics, and his translation of Magdalena the Sinner by Lilian Faschinger won the 1996 Schlegel-Tieck Translation Prize. His most recent translations include The Weekend by Bernhard Schlink, Sorry by Zoran Drvenkar, Perlmann’s Silence by Pascal Mercier and Robert Enke: A Life Too Short by Ronald Reng, winner of the 2011 William Hill Sports Book of the Year. A former chair of the Translators Association, he sits on the PEN Writers in Translation committee, the editorial board of New Books in German and the Advisory Panel of the British Centre for Literary Translation, where he regularly teaches at the summer school. He lives in London. (Source: English Pen)

Maigret Takes a Room has been reviewed at FictionFan’s Book Reviews, and at Crime Review.

Penguin UK publicity page

Penguin US publicity page

Georges Simenon Website

Maigret en meublé 

Maigret of the Month: February, 2007

Tout Maigret

audible

Maigret a pensión aka Maigret en la pensión, de Georges Simenon

Descripción del libro: Cuando disparan a uno de sus mejores inspectores, Maigret decide alojarse en la bien cuidada pensión de Mademoiselle Clément en París para encontrar al culpable.


Mi opinión
: Mientras hace guardia de noche vigilando a un sospechoso de robo, Janvier es llevado al hospital de Cochin gravemente herido. Afortunadamente, su vida pronto estará fuera de peligro. “Él [Maigret] no quería preguntarle a Lucas qué le había pasado frente a Madame Janvier. Él tampoco podía dejarlos. Aparte de Lucas, su mano derecha, Janvier siempre había sido su inspector favorito. Lo había tenido con él cuando era muy joven, como ahora lo era Lapointe, y todavía lo llamaba algunas veces el joven Janvier.” Se trataba de un caso en el que Maigret apenas si había participado directamente. Cinco días antes, dos hombres entraron en un pequeño club nocturno en Montparnasse, el Stork, a la hora del cierre y robaron la recaudación de la noche. Tres horas más tarde, gracias a un detalle insignificante, se pudo identificar a uno de los ladrones, un joven llamado Émile Paulus, que vivía alojado en la pensión de Mademoiselle Clément en la Rue Lhomond. La casera afirmó que no lo había visto salir de la casa, suponiendo que debía haber salido de la casa por la mañana temprano. La pensión fue registrada el primer día y estuvo bajo vigilancia durante cuatro días, sin ningún resultado, hasta que Janvier recibió un disparo en el pecho. Maigret, aprovechando que su esposa estaba fuera de París cuidando a su hermana enferma, decide hospedarse en la pensión de Mademoiselle Clément. Pronto Maigret descubre dónde estaba escondido Paulus. Pero cuando todo parece haber terminado, nos damos cuenta de que, de hecho, solo estaba comenzando.

Como a menudo es el caso en los misterios de Maigret, tanto la investigación como la solución del caso se basan fundamentalmente en una cuidadosa atención a los detalles más insignificantes, junto con un profundo conocimiento de la naturaleza humana. Lo que disfruté particularmente en esta historia es el excelente retrato de los personajes involucrados. En cierto sentido, lo que encontramos en esta entrega es la dimensión más humana de Maigret y, aunque solo sea por esta razón, vale la pena leerla.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Sobre el autor: Georges Simenon escribió ciento noventa y una novelas con su nombre, y un número indeterminado de novelas e historias publicadas bajo seudónimo, así como memorias y textos dictados. El comisario Maigret es el protagonista de setenta y cinco de estas novelas y treinta y un relatos breves, todos publicados entre 1931 y 1972. Famoso en todo el mundo y ya reconocido como maestro, hoy nadie duda de que es uno de los mejores escritores del siglo XX,

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2017 European Film Awards

Last night at the EFA (European Film Academy) awards gala in Berlin, Timecode, by Juanjo Giménez won the prize to best short film . See my film notes on Timecode here.

I’ve not been able to see The Square (Spanish title: La Plaza) yet.

The full list of winners at the 30th EFA awards ceremony is:

EUROPEAN FILM: The Square, dir: Ruben Ostlund

EUROPEAN DISCOVERY – PRIX FIPRESCI: Lady Macbeth, dir: William Oldroyd

EUROPEAN COMEDY: The Square, dir: Ruben Östlund

EUROPEAN ACTRESS: Alexandra Borbely, On Body And Soul

EUROPEAN ACTOR: Claes Bang, The Square

EUROPEAN DOCUMENTARY: Communion, dir: Anna Zamecka

EUROPEAN DIRECTOR: Ruben Östlund, The Square

EUROPEAN SCREENWRITER: Ruben Östlund, The Square

EUROPEAN ANIMATED FEATURE: Loving Vincent, dirs: Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman

EUROPEAN SHORT FILM: Timecode, dir: Juanjo Gimenez

PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED EUROPEAN CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michail Krichman, Loveless

EUROPEAN COMPOSER: Evgueni & Sacha Galperine, Loveless

EUROPEAN EDITOR: Robin Campillo, BPM

EUROPEAN PRODUCTION DESIGNER: Josefin Åsberg, The Square

EUROPEAN COSTUME DESIGNER: Katarzyna Lewińska, Spoor

EUROPEAN HAIR & MAKE-UP ARTIST: Leendert van Nimwegen, Brimstone

EUROPEAN SOUND DESIGNER: Oriol Tarragó, A Monster Calls

EUROPEAN CO-PRODUCTION AWARD: Cedomir Kolar

EUROPEAN ACHIEVEMENT IN WORLD CINEMA: Julie Delpy

EFA LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Aleksandr Sokurov

EFA PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD: Stefan Zweig – Farewell To Europe, dir: Maria Schrader

Source: European Film Academy – THE 30TH EUROPEAN FILM AWARDS – 9 December 2017 – Berlin/Germany

Film Notes: Murder on the Orient Express (2017), directed by Kenneth Branagh

US –MT / 114 min / Color / Kingberg Genre, Mark Gordon Company, Scott Free Dir: Kenneth Branagh Pro: Ridley Scott, Mark Gordon, Simon Kinberg, Kenneth Branagh, Judy Hofflund, Michael Schaefer Scr: Michael Green, based on the novel by Agatha Christie Cin: Haris Zambarloukos Mus: Patrick Doyle Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Marwan Kenzari, Olivia Colman, Lucy Boynton, Manuel Garcia Rulfo, Sergei Polunin, Tom Bateman Synopsis: What starts out as a lavish train ride through Europe quickly unfolds into one of the most stylish, suspenseful and thrilling mysteries ever told. From the novel by best-selling author Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express tells the tale of thirteen strangers stranded on a train, where everyone’s a suspect. One man must race against time to solve the puzzle before the murderer strikes again. (Source: metacritic) Release dates: 3 November 2017 (UK and Ireland); 10 November 2017 (USA); 24 November 2017 (Spain) IMDb Rating: 6.8.

MV5BNGFmM2NmYjYtMjAwNy00ZDkzLWI3ZWMtOGZhOTRhYzQwMTA0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzU2MzMyNTI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_During this week Begoña and I went to see the remake directed by Kenneth Branagh of Sidney Lumet’s 1974 film Murder on the Orient Express, based on the homonymous novel by Agatha Christie. One might wonder whether this remake was necessary. I guess Michael Green, the screenwriter, answers to this question when he says: ‘We all had the same goal: we wanted to bring it into the modern world without changing what’s essential to it, without altering its soul, so that a contemporary audience can experience it, believe it and be thrilled by it.’ And this is enough for my taste, being myself a great enthusiast of Agatha Christie’s novels. I honestly believe that the film is well made and, although it’s been a long time since I saw Sidney Lumet’s version, I think this new adaptation stands well on a par with the 1974 film. In my view, Sergio at Tipping my Fedora explains it better than I in his blog here.

Production Notes: Agatha Christie’s classic mystery, with its richly drawn characters confined to a luxurious passenger train, taut scenes and crisp dialogue, has fixated audiences since the novel’s debut in 1934. The Times of London wrote upon its publishing, “The little grey cells solve once more the seemingly insoluble. Mrs. Christie makes an improbable tale very real, and keeps her readers enthralled and guessing to the end.”

Readers have been captivated with the mystery, the crime, the story, and the character of Hercule Poirot for generations. The allure of the Orient Express was magnified by Christie’s work, and travellers continue to flock to discover the illustrious compartments and service to this day. Room 411 in the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul, where Christie allegedly wrote the novel, also remains a popular destination site. There are societies and clubs the world over dedicated to rediscovering Christie’s mysteries, particularly those featuring Hercule Poirot. Why the endless fascination? “Agatha Christie is expert at bringing depth (with economy) to the observation of characters, making them distinct and colourful, but also believable. I think she enjoys the literary dazzle of that, but in the Orient Express, you also have glamour. You have snow. You have elegance and the golden age of romance in travel. And, of course, you have a murder,” says Kenneth Branagh. This film introduces another generation of moviegoers to an enthralling new interpretation of one of the most beloved mysteries of all time. A “who’s who” of celebrated actors and an acclaimed production team up for the journey. With everything Agatha Christie, it all starts with the story. But to make a film, of course, you then need to get the rights to that story – and for producers Mark Gordon and Simon Kinberg, that proved to be a near-five-year-long journey. Initially, both men had enquired about the rights separately but soon decided that teaming up would be the best approach. Gordon and Kinberg subsequently partnered with Ridley Scott. Now it was time to commission a script… As a huge admirer of Agatha Christie and long-time collaborator with producer Ridley Scott, screenwriter Michael Green (Logan, Blade Runner 2049) was thrilled when he was asked to bring this fabulous story to the screen. Producer Scott, a Christie fan himself, and an admirer of Sidney Lumet’s 1974 version of Murder on the Orient Express, had leapt at the chance to re-explore the book, seeing it a wonderful opportunity to present the author’s work to a modern-day audience. Green agrees. “They’re incredible stories with characters that you want to see more and more of,” says Green. “And if you’re lucky enough to catch an Agatha Christie book or play at the right age, it’s going to stay with you and remain charming in your memory.”

But even as a Christie fan, one story stands out for Green: “I’m very fortunate that my favourite Agatha Christie is, hands down, Murder on the Orient Express. It not only features Poirot, my favourite character of hers, but it’s a story that has a surprising ending, along with the fascinating people you meet along the way. The setting is grand and everything about it makes it stand apart in my memory as the special one.”

Green met with the Christie estate to discuss the project: “We all had the same goal: we wanted to bring it into the modern world without changing what’s essential to it, without altering its soul, so that a contemporary audience can experience it, believe it and be thrilled by it.” (Source: 20th Century Fox)

About Agatha Christie: Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born on 15 September 1890 in Torquay, in the south west of England, to an English mother and an American father. She taught herself to read at five years old, and began writing her own poems from a young age. Her education was a combination of informal tutoring at home (mainly by her parents) and teaching establishments in Paris, where she became an accomplished opera singer and pianist. By the age of 18 she was amusing herself with writing short stories, some of which were published in much revised form in the 1930s.

In 1914 Christie became a nurse in the Voluntary Aid Detachment of the Red Cross Hospital in Torquay, and when the hospital opened a dispensary, she accepted an offer to work there and completed the examination of the Society of Apothecaries. This sparked a lifelong interest in the use of poisons, which made a huge contribution to her first novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles. The murderer’s use of poison was so well described that Christie received an unprecedented honour for a writer of fiction, a review in the Pharmaceutical Journal.

She was spurred on to write a detective story following a challenge from her elder sister Madge. As there were Belgian refugees in most parts of the English countryside, Torquay being no exception, Christie thought that a Belgian refugee, perhaps a former great Belgian policeman, would make an excellent detective for her first novel. Hercule Poirot was born.

In 1919, Christie gave birth to her first child with husband Archie, a daughter, Rosalind. This was also the year that publisher John Lane contracted her to produce five more books. She went on to be one of the first authors Penguin ever published in paperback. Following the war Christie continued to write and to travel with Archie, including a Grand Tour of the Empire in 1922 during which she learned to surf in South Africa and Hawaii (in fact she became the first British woman to surf). They divorced in 1928, and Christie then fulfilled one of her lifelong ambitions – to travel on the Orient Express to the Middle East. This and future trips are recognized in books such as Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile, Murder in Mesopotamia, Appointment with Death and They Came to Baghdad, as well as many short stories.

During a trip to the excavations at Ur in 1930, Christie met archaeologist Max Mallowan – the man who became her second husband, and who was fourteen years her Jr.. Their marriage would last forty-six years. She accompanied Max on his annual archaeological expeditions for nearly 30 years. The excursions did nothing to stem the flow of her writing and her book, Come, Tell Me How You Live, published in 1946, wittily describes her early days on digs in Syria with Max.

By 1930, having written several novels and short stories, she had created a new character to act as detective. Miss Jane Marple was an amalgam of several old ladies she used to meet in villages she visited as a child. When she created Miss Marple, Christie did not expect her to become Poirot’s rival, but with The Murder at the Vicarage, Miss Marple’s first outing, it appeared she had produced another popular and enduring character.

In 1971 Christie achieved one of Britain’s highest honours when she was made a Dame of the British Empire. Her last public appearance was at the opening night of the 1974 film version of Murder on the Orient Express starring Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot. Her verdict? A good adaptation with the minor point that Poirot’s moustaches weren’t luxurious enough.

About the filmmaker: Kenneth Branagh is an acclaimed actor and director whose work across film, television and theatre is underscored by quality, truth and passion. He has been nominated for five Academy Awards®, making him one of the first actors to receive five nominations in five separate categories (Actor, Supporting Actor, Director, Screenplay, and Short Film).

Branagh has directed 20th Century Fox’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s classic mystery, Murder on the Orient Express. In addition to being behind the camera, Branagh will also star as ‘Hercule Poirot’ opposite an all-star cast, including Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Michelle Pfeiffer and Dame Judi Dench. The film is slated to be released in November.

Currently, Branagh is in pre-production on Disney’s adaptation of the best-selling children’s series, Artemis Fowl, which follows a young Irish criminal mastermind on a mission to rescue his father. In March 2015, Branagh directed the live-action Cinderella for Disney. The critically acclaimed film, which starred Cate Blanchett, Lily James, Richard Madden and Helena Bonham Carter, grossed over $540 million at the global box office. In May 2011, Branagh directed Marvel’s action adventure, Thor, starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, and Sir Anthony Hopkins. The film grossed over $448 million worldwide.

Branagh’s first venture into filmmaking met instant success. His 1989 production of Henry V, which he starred in and directed, won a score of international awards including Academy Award® nominations for Best Actor and Best Director. His previous directing credits include, Dead Again, Peter’s Friends, Much Ado About Nothing, Swan Song, which received an Academy Award® nomination, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Hamlet, which received 4 Academy Award® nominations, Love’s Labour’s Lost, As You Like It, The Magic Flute and Sleuth.

In addition to his work behind the camera, Branagh is also a gifted and well-respected actor. This year, he starred in Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed box office hit, Dunkirk. Branagh portrayed ‘Commander Bolton’, a British officer who seeks to evacuate allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, and France surrounded by the German Army during World War II. In 2011, Branagh starred as ‘Sir Laurence Olivier’ in Simon Curtis’ My Week With Marilyn opposite Michelle Williams. The role earned Branagh an Academy Award® nomination for Best Supporting Actor, as well as a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nomination. His additional acting credits include, A Month in the Country, Othello, The Gingerbread Man, Woody Allen’s Celebrity, Alien Love Triangle, Paul Greengrass’s The Theory of Flight, Wild Wild West, Philip Noyce’s Rabbit Proof Fence, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Pirate Radio and Valkyrie.

His work on the small screen includes an Emmy® and Golden Globe® nominated performance in the BAFTA award winning series Wallander. He has also starred in Shackleton Conspiracy for which he won an Emmy® for Best Actor and earned a Golden Globe® nomination; Warm Springs in which he played FDR and was nominated for an Emmy®, Golden Globe® and a SAG Award.

In addition to his successful career in film and television, Branagh is a distinguished director and actors on the stage. This fall Branagh directed a new production of Hamlet, starring Tom Hiddleston, as a fund-raising venture for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where Branagh is President. Last year, The Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company completed its highly regarded and successful inaugural season of Plays at the Garrick Theatre in London’s West End. The productions included The Winter’s Tale, Harlequinade, All on Her Own, The Painkiller, Red Velvet, Romeo and Juliet, and The Entertainer. The work earned the company a prestigious Olivier Award.

Branagh’s stage work began when he made his West End acting debut in Another Country, which earned him the Olivier Award for “Most Promising Newcomer.” He founded the Renaissance Theatre Company for whom he either starred in or directed Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, Hamlet, Look Back in Anger, Uncle Vanya, King Lear, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Coriolanus and The Life of Napoleon. He also wrote the plays Public Enemy and Tell Me Honestly. Numerous stage appearances include Henry V, Love’s Labour’s Lost, and Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company. His other theatrical endeavours include directing the hit stage comedy THE PLAY WHAT I WROTE which transferred from London’s West End to Broadway where it received a TONY nomination, and five-star performances on the British stage in Richard III, Mamet’s EdmondIvanov, and the new comedy Painkiller in the opening season at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, Branagh’s hometown.

Branagh is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art where he won the Bancroft Gold Medal. He received the prestigious Michael Balcon Award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), for outstanding contribution to cinema. He was also knighted for services to drama and the community in Northern Ireland by Queen Elizabeth II and will receive the freedom of Belfast from its City Council later this year.

The Hollywood Reporter Film Review

Review: Prussian Blue (2017) by Philip Kerr

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Quercus, 2017. Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 2207 KB. Print Length: 546 pages. ASIN: B01INGSYQO. eISBN: 978-1-78429-650-6.

isbn9781784296483

Book Description: It’s 1956 and Bernie Gunther is on the run. Ordered by Erich Mielke, deputy head of the East German Stasi, to murder Bernie’s former lover by thallium poisoning, he finds his conscience is stronger than his desire not to be murdered in turn. Now he must stay one step ahead of Mielke’s retribution. The man Mielke has sent to hunt him is an ex-Kripo colleague, and as Bernie pushes towards Germany he recalls their last case together. In 1939, Bernie was summoned by Reinhard Heydrich to the Berghof: Hitler’s mountain home in Obersalzberg. A low-level German bureaucrat had been murdered, and the Reichstag deputy Martin Bormann, in charge of overseeing renovations to the Berghof, wants the case solved quickly. If the Fuhrer were ever to find out that his own house had been the scene of a recent murder – the consequences wouldn’t bear thinking about. And so begins perhaps the strangest of Bernie Gunther’s adventures, for although several countries and seventeen years separate the murder at the Berghof from his current predicament, Bernie will find there is some unfinished business awaiting him in Germany.

My take: Prussian Blue is the twelfth instalment in Bernie Gunter book series. The title refers to a dark blue synthetic pigment that is also used In medicine as an antidote for certain kind of heavy metal poisoning. The story begins when the previous book, The Other Side of Silence, ended. It is October 1956 and most of the hotels in the French Riviera, including the Grand Hôtel Cap Ferrat, where Bernie Gunther works, are beginning to close down for the winter. Bernie is looking forward to meeting his wife, Elisabeth, who, out of the blue, had sent him a letter inviting him to dinner. Soon he discovers that it’s a trap orchestrated by General Erich Mielke, Deputy Head of the Stasi, to have a private conversation with him. In fact Mielke is seeking the repayment of a debt and he wants Bernie to kill Anne French, as a condition for letting him remain alive. But Bernie, regardless of how much he hates Anne French, is not willing to kill her and, as soon as he finds a chance to escape the Stasi agents that are escorting him to England for paying his debt, he runs away. One of the Stasi agents that chase him turns out to be a former Kripo colleague which brings back to him memories of the last time they worked together. It was early April 1939, just a few months before Hitler invaded Poland. Following orders from Reinhard Heydrich, Bernie arrives at Obersalzberg to investigate the murder of a local civil engineer who was shot with a rifle on the terrace of Hitler’s resting home, the Berghof. Given the extreme sensitivity of the case that affects the Fuhrer’s own security, Bernie will have to report directly to Martin Bormann. Besides General Heydrich expects him to gather enough information about Martin Bormann that can be used against him. But Bernie hardly has time to find the culprit. Hitler’s birthday is drawing near and it is imperative to capture the murderer before the seven days left until the 20th of April. Certainly Martin Bormann doesn’t want to be the man to tell the Leader that he can’t guarantee his safety in the Berghof because a murderer is on the loose.

As often happens in some of the novels in this series, the action takes place in two different temporary frameworks that, occasionally, become entwined. Perhaps, the novelty resides here in that, at the end both stories converge in the same place, although in different time periods. With a carefully crafted writing but with an excessive taste for the details, Kerr drives us through Nazi Germany in a well-documented and well-designed story that I enjoyed reading. A very convincing tale populated by historical and fictional characters which enhance the credibility of the plot. The only drawback I have found is a certain lack of symmetry between both story lines and I don’t quite understand very well the need to interweave them, since this does not add anything new to the development of the main plot, the one taking place in 1939 and, quite the contrary, it disturbs the normal development of this story. Perhaps it would have been enough with a preface and an epilogue, both set in 1956. In any case, it is a more than interesting novel which I highly recommend.

My rating: A (I loved it)

About the author: Philip Kerr was born in Edinburgh in 1956 and read Law at university. Having learned nothing as an undergraduate lawyer he stayed on as postgraduate and read Law and Philosophy, most of this German, which was when and where he first became interested in German twentieth century history and, in particular, the Nazis. Following university he worked as a copywriter at a number of advertising agencies, including Saatchi & Saatchi, during which time he wrote no advertising slogans of any note. He spent most of his time in advertising researching an idea he’d had for a novel about a Berlin-based policeman, in 1936. And following several trips to Germany – and a great deal of walking around the mean streets of Berlin – his first novel, March Violets, was published in 1989 and introduced the world to Bernie Gunther. ‘I loved Berlin before the wall came down; I’m pretty fond of the place now, but back then it was perhaps the most atmospheric city on earth. Having a dark, not to say black sense of humour myself, it’s always been somewhere I feel very comfortable.’ Having left advertising behind, Kerr worked for the London Evening Standard and produced two more novels featuring Bernie Gunther: The Pale Criminal (1990) and A German Requiem (1991). These were published as an omnibus edition, Berlin Noir in 1992. Thinking he might like to write something else, he did and published a host of other novels before returning to Bernie Gunther after a gap of sixteen years, with The One from the Other (2007). Says Kerr, ‘I never intended to leave such a large gap between Book 3 and Book 4; a lot of other stuff just got in the way; and I feel kind of lucky that people are still as interested in this guy as I am. If anything I’m more interested in him now than I was back in the day.’ Two more novels followed, A Quiet Flame (2008) and If the Dead Rise Not (2009). Field Gray (2010) is perhaps his most ambitious novel yet that features Bernie Gunther. Crossing a span of more than twenty years, it takes Bernie from Cuba, to New York, to Landsberg Prison in Germany where he vividly describes a story that covers his time in Paris, Toulouse, Minsk, Konigsberg, and his life as a German POW in Soviet Russia. The next novels in the series are Prague Fatale (2011);  A Man Without Breath (2013); The Lady from Zagreb (2015); The Other Side of Silence (2016); and Prussian Blue (2017). Greeks Bearing Gifts (Bernie Gunther # 13).is due to be released on 3 April 2018. ‘I don’t know how long I can keep doing them; I’ll probably write one too many; but I don’t feel that’s happened yet.’ As P.B.Kerr Kerr is also the author of the popular ‘Children of the Lamp’ series.

Prussian Blue has been reviewed at Crime Fiction Lover, reviewingtheevidence, The View from the Blue House, Crime Review,

Quercus Books publicity page

Penguin Random House publicity page

Philip Kerr Website

Bernie Gunther the fan site

audible

Azul de Prusia, de Philip Kerr

Descripción del libro: Estamos en el 1956 y Bernie Gunther se encuentra huyendo. Tras recibir la orden directa de Erich Mielke, director adjunto de la Stasi la policía secreta de la RDA, de asesinar a su antigua amante envenenándola con talio, encuentra que su conciencia es más fuerte que su deseo de no ser a su vez asesinado él también. Ahora debe mantenerse un paso por delante de las represalias de Mielke. El hombre que Mielke ha enviado a perseguirlo es un antiguo colega de la Kripo, y mientras Bernie intenta llegar hasta Alemania, recuerda su último caso juntos. En 1939, Bernie fue requerido por Reinhard Heydrich para trasladarse a Berghof: la residencia de Hitler en Obersalzberg. Un burócrata alemán de bajo nivel había sido asesinado, y el jefe adjunto del Reichstag, Martin Bormann, a cargo de supervisar las reformas de Berghof, quiere que el caso sea resuelto rápidamente. Si el Führer descubriera alguna vez que su propia casa había sido el escenario de un asesinato reciente, no hay ni que pensar en las consecuencias que esto pdoría tener. Y así comienza quizás la más extraña de las aventuras de Bernie Gunther, porque aunque algunos países y diecisiete años separan el asesinato en Berghof de sus actuales dificultades, Bernie descubrirá que tiene algunos asuntos pendientes que le están esperando en Alemania.

Mi opinión: Azul de Prusia es la duodécima entrega de la serie de libros protagonizados por Bernie Gunter. El título hace referencia a un pigmento sintético azul oscuro que también se usa en medicina como antídoto para cierto tipo de intoxicación por metales pesados. La historia comienza cuando el libro anterior, El Otro Lado del Silencio, termina. Es octubre de 1956 y la mayoría de los hoteles de la Riviera francesa, incluido el Grand Hôtel Cap Ferrat, donde trabaja Bernie Gunther, están comenzando a cerrar durante el invierno. Bernie espera con interés encontrase con su mujer, Elisabeth, quien, de la nada, le envió una carta invitándolo a cenar. Pronto descubre que se trata de una trampa orquestada por el general Erich Mielke, jefe adjunto de la Stasi, para tener una conversación privada con él. De hecho, Mielke está buscando el reembolso de una deuda y quiere que Bernie mate a Anne French, como condición para dejarlo seguir con vida. Pero Bernie, por mucho que odie a Anne French, no está dispuesto a matarla y, tan pronto como encuentra una oportunidad de escapar de los agentes de la Stasi que lo escoltan hasta Inglaterra para pagar su deuda, huye. Uno de los agentes de la Stasi que lo persigue resulta ser un antiguo colega de la Kripo que le trae recuerdos de la última vez que trabajaron juntos. Fue a principios de abril de 1939, solo unos meses antes de que Hitler invadiera Polonia. Siguiendo órdenes de Reinhard Heydrich, Bernie llega a Obersalzberg para investigar el asesinato de un ingeniero civil local que recibió un disparo con un rifle en la terraza de Berghof, la casa de descanso de Hitler. Dada la extrema sensibilidad del caso que afecta la propia seguridad del Führer, Bernie tendrá que informar directamente a Martin Bormann. Además, el General Heydrich espera que reúna suficiente información sobre Martin Bormann que pueda ser utilizada en su contra. Pero Bernie apenas tiene tiempo de encontrar al culpable. El cumpleaños de Hitler se acerca y es imperativo capturar al asesino antes de los siete días que faltan hasta el 20 de abril. Ciertamente, Martin Bormann no quiere ser el hombre que le diga al Líder que no puede garantizar su seguridad en Berghof porque un asesino anda suelto.

Como sucede a menudo en algunas de las novelas de esta serie, la acción tiene lugar en dos marcos temporales diferentes que, ocasionalmente, se entrelazan. Quizás, la novedad reside aquí en que, al final, ambas historias convergen en el mismo lugar, aunque en diferentes períodos de tiempo. Con una escritura cuidadosamente elaborada pero con un gusto excesivo por los detalles, Kerr nos conduce a través de la Alemania Nazi en una historia bien documentada y bien diseñada que disfruté leyendo. Una historia muy convincente poblada por personajes históricos y de ficción que incrementan la credibilidad de la trama. El único inconveniente que he encontrado es una cierta falta de simetría entre ambas líneas argumentales y no entiendo muy bien la necesidad de entrelazarlas, ya que esto no agrega nada nuevo al desarrollo de la trama principal, la que tiene lugar. en 1939 y, por el contrario, perturba el desarrollo normal de esta historia. Tal vez hubiera sido suficiente con un prefacio y un epílogo, ambos ambientados en 1956. En cualquier caso, es una novela más que interesante que recomiendo encarecidamente.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Sobre el autor: Philip Kerr nació en Edimburgo en 1956 y estudió Derecho en la Universidad. Al no haber aprendido nada de derecho continuó su posgrado en Derecho y en Filosofía, la mayor parte de ésta en alemán, y fue entonces donde y cuando se interesó por primera vez en la historia de Alemania del siglo XX y, en particular, en la época nazi. Después de la universidad, trabajó como redactor en varias agencias de publicidad, incluida Saatchi & Saatchi, y durante ese tiempo no escribió eslóganes publicitarios de interés alguno. Pasó la mayor parte de su tiempo en publicidad investigando una idea que había tenido sobre una novela protagonizada por un policía en Berlín, en el 1936. Y después de varios viajes a Alemania y una gran cantidad de caminatas por las malas calles de Berlín, su primera novela, Violetas de marzo, se publicó en el 1989 presentando al mundo a Bernie Gunther. “Me encantaba Berlín antes de que cayera el muro y continuo seindo muy aficionado a este sitio, pero en aquel entonces era quizás la ciudad más atmosférica de la tierra. Al tener yo un sentido del humor oscuro, por no decir negro, siempre ha sido un lugar en el que me siento muy cómodo.” Después de abandonar la publicidad, Kerr trabajó para el London Evening Standard y escribió dos novelas más protagonizadas por Bernie Gunther: Pálido criminal (1990) y Requiem alemán (1991). Las tres novelas fueron publicados en una antología como Trilogía berlimesa en 1992. Pensando que le gustaría escribir algo más, publicó otras novelas antes de regresar a Bernie Gunther después de un intervalo de dieciséis años, con Unos por otros ( 2007). Dice Kerr: “Nunca tuve la intención de dejar una brecha de tiempo tan grande entre el tercer y cuarto libro; muchas otras cosas se interpusieron en el camino; y me siento afortunado de que la gente siga tan interesada en este hombre como yo. Si acaso, estoy más interesado en él ahora que entonces.” Le siguieron dos novelas más, Una llama misteriosa (2008), y Si los muertos no resucitan (2009). Gris de campaña (2010) es quizás su novela más ambiciosa protagonizada por Bernie Gunther. Abarca un lapso de tiempo de más de veinte años, transportando a Bernie de Cuba, a Nueva York, a la prisión de Landsberg en Alemania, donde describe vívidamente una historia que cubre su tiempo en París, Toulouse, Minsk, Konigsberg y su vida como prisionero de guerra alemán en la Rusia soviética. Las siguientes novelas de la serie son Praga mortal (2011); Un hombre sin aliento (2013); La dama de Zagreb (2015); El otro lado del silencio (2016); y Azul de Prusia (2017). Temo a los griego cuando traen  regalos (Bernie Gunther #13) saldrá a la venta el 3 de abril de 2018. “No se cuánto tiempo más podré seguir escribiendo esta serie; Probablemente escribiré demasiados; pero no creo haber llegado a ese extremo todavía.” Como P.B. Kerr Kerr también es autor de una popular serie infantil Los niños de la lámpara mágica.

Film Notes: The Bookshop (2017) directed by Isabel Coixet

ES–GB–DE  / 110 min / Color / A Contracorriente Films, Diagonal TV, Zephyr Films, ONE TWO Films, Green Films Dir: Isabel Coixet Pro: Jaume Banacolocha, Joan Bas, Adolfo Blanco, Sol Bondy, Chris Curling, Jamila Wenske Scr: Isabel Coixet based on a novel by Penelope Fitzgerald Cin: Jean-Claude Larrieu Mus: Alfonso de Vilallonga Cast: Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, Bill Nighy, Honor Kneafsey, James Lance Synopsis: The Bookshop is a sumptuous cinematic adaptation which celebrates Bibliophilia itself. Based on Penelope Fitzgerald’s novel of the same name; The Bookshop is set in 1959, Florence Green (Emily Mortimer), a free spirited widow, puts grief behind her and risks everything to open up a bookshop – the first such shop in the sleepy seaside town of Hardborough, England. Fighting damp, cold and considerable local apathy she struggles to establish herself but soon her fortunes change for the better. By exposing the narrow minded local townsfolk to the best literature of the day including Nabokov’s scandalising Lolita and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, she opens their eyes thereby causing a cultural awakening in a town which has not changed for centuries. Her activities bring her a kindred spirit and ally in the figure of Mr Brundish (Bill Nighy) who is himself sick of the town’s stale atmosphere. But this mini social revolution soon brings her fierce enemies: she invites the hostility of the town’s less prosperous shopkeepers and also crosses Mrs. Gamart (Patricia Clarkson), Hardborough’s vengeful, embittered alpha female who is herself a wannabe doyenne of the local arts scene. When Florence refuses to bend to Gamart’s will, they begin a struggle not just for the bookshop but for the very heart and soul of the town. (Source: Celsius entertainment) Release Dates: 21 October 2017 (Valladolid International Film Festival); 10 November 2017 (Spain) (Spanish title: ‎‎La librería) IMDb Rating: 6.5. Isabel Coixet’s screenplay, won the Frankfurt Book Fair prize for Best International Literary Adaptation 2017.

1S_BOOKSHOP_FINALIsabel Coixet commented: The Bookshop is the story of a woman whose light, innocence and perseverance pose a threat to the powers that be in a small town plagued with petty schemes and darkness. This is a film about passion, for books and for life.”

This week Begoña and I had occasion to go and see Isabel Coixet’s latest film The Bookshop. It may not be exempt of some defects, but overall I quite enjoyed this film and I truly believe that it is well worth seeing. Particularly if, like me, you are a book lover.

About the filmmaker: Isabel Coixet is one of the most prolific female film directors of contemporary Spain, having directed seven feature-length films since the beginning of her film career in 1988. Her distinct visual style secure the “multifaceted (she directs, writes, produces and acts)” filmmaker’s status as a “auteur”. Isabel started filming when she was given a 8mm camera on the occasion of her First Communion and made her debut in 1988 as a scriptwriter and director in Demasiado Viejo Para Morir Joven. Foreign Films and English features as Things I Never Told You (1996), the international success My life Without You (2003) or Paris, je t’aime (2006) followed over the years. Her work has been honoured with multiple international awards including 5 Goya awards (best documentary for Escuchando al juez Garzón (2011), best documentary for Invisibles (2007), Best Director & Best Screenplay for The Secret Life of Words (2005) and Best Screenplay for My Life without Me (2003). She was also awarded the Lina Mangiacapre Award at Venice Film Festival for the The Secret Life of Words (2005).

EWA Interviews: Isabel Coixet, director of “The Bookshop”

The Bookshop film review at The Hollywood Reporter