This is a historical whodunnit which wonderfully brings back to life the climate of hopelessness after World War II.
The main character is an ex-policeman who becomes a private detective after the war. He joined the SS in order to survive the fanatical world of the Nazis.
While he despised Adolf Hitler and his hangers-on, he had a healthy respect for their murderous grip on power. He was also forced to carry out some orders which made him gag.
Bennie Gunther sells his wife's tainted inheritance to set up a private investigative agency. His sole clients are ex-Nazis who have been sentenced to death or life in prison for their role in the holocaust. They want him to find extenuating circumstances so they can be freed.
He unwittingly falls into a trap set for him by the CIA and Nazi doctors who need a fall guy. A woman asks him to verify that her husband has died so he can remarry.
He becomes embroiled in a murky underground of escapees fleeing to South America, actively aided by Catholic priests, who prefer the Nazis to the communists.
Gunther travels across Germany to evade the occupying forces and to confront his enemies.
He manages to find out the truth about his betrayal and solves his dilemma with a neat twist.
This is a good read, fast-paced and wholly believable. The dialogue is sharp, witty and overlain with a weary cynicism that evokes the old fiction writers.