Philip Kerr, the wildly flexible British author of everything from noir detective stories, to far-out sci-fi, to comic crime capers, began his career with what is now known as the Berlin Noir trilogy of books in 1989/1990/1991. Beginning with March Violets and followed by The Pale Criminal and A German Requiem, these mystery novels follow the adventures of Bernie Gunther, ex-cop and now a private detective. Set in pre-WWII (the first two) and postwar Germany, they explore the interesting mindset of the German people in those crazy times.
In March Violets, Bernie is hired by Herman Six, German multimillionaire industrialist, to find a priceless diamond necklace stolen during the murder and arson at his daughter and son-in-law's house. He also gets involved with Herman Goerring, who hires him to find another person involved in the murder and theft. All this happens during the 1936 Berlin Olympics, amid an atmosphere of fear, loathing and corruption. In typical noir fashion, Bernie wins a few and loses a few.
It is a real fun book, with some great noir writing (even if it feels sometimes like he is trying too hard):
We waited in the library. It wasn't big by the standards of a Bismarck or a Hindenburg, and you couldn't have packed more than six cars between the Reichstag-sized desk and the door... There were plenty of books, of the sort you buy by the metre: lots of German poets and philosophers and jurists with whom I can claim a degree of familiarity, but only as the names of streets and cafes and bars
She looked at me, puzzled, while I only gawped back at her. She was worth it. She had the kind of body I'd only ever dreamed about, in the sort of dream I'd often dreamed of having again. There was't much I couldn't imagine it doing, except the ordinary things like work and getting in a man's way.
I enjoyed the book and hope to get to the next two in the series, before tackling his newest Bernie Gunther book, just recently released.