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William Boyd
New mystery and thriller books set amid the world wars
New mystery and thriller books set amid the world wars

Mysteries and thrillers set in the years surrounding and during our two world wars have become a cottage industry. From Ken Follett's "Eye of the Needle" in the 1980s to recent novels by Charles Todd and Jacqueline Winspear, the standouts blend enough history with the genre's more familiar elements to keep readers enlightened and entertained. Philip Kerr has achieved that alchemy through seven books in the Bernie Gunther series while advancing his complex hero to the Cold War. In "Prague Fatale" (Marion Wood/Putnam: 401 pp., $26.95), Kerr backtracks to 1941. Bernie is roused from suicidal thoughts caused by his intelligence work in Belorussia because of two...

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