Philip Kerr made his literary reputation with The Bernie Gunther novels set during and after the Nazi Reich. His hero was a detective, a good man and good German who would not bend to the Nazi creed. Kerr’s knowledge of that period was impressive and the plots exciting. He has now created a new hero Scott Manson, half Scot , half German , mixed parentage who played and manages in the Premier League. Manson is a dab hand at solving murders.
Kerr, an Arsenal season ticket holder knows his football. The background knowledge is again impressive. In the third of his Scott Manson novels he is mandated by Barcelona to locate a disappearing forward loaned to them by PSG. He understands how these super clubs operate and the lifestyle of a player on mega money. The novel is let down by some poor writing especially the dialogue. He likes a Raymond Chandler style wise cracking patois but does not carry it off. Manson beds a super model and a smart Antiguan lawyer but the way he goes about it conversationally would make most modern women run a mile. Added to this is a rather contrived plot – could a world famous footballer go to Antigua and disappear and if he did would an ex manager be employed to find him? I found myself at various points wondering if I should give up on it as the writing was really grating but continued out of curiousity to see how it ended. There is clever twist but the novel ends setting up his fourth. Where he was brave to create a series of novels with a German policema n at the centre , it is an easier option to wrote a fiction drawing on the massive domestic and global interest in football. Yet speaking to Alan, Alex and Tom they had not heard of him and when read it they liked the footballing parts but considered it a very average detective novel.
There is recent intereet in Georges Simenon who wrote the Maigret novels. The critique runs thst he was a superb writer but the detection is incidental. Philip Kerr in the Scott Manson series is the converse though he (Scott Manson) does have one thing in common with The Belgian writer , both were incorrigible philanderers.