* Don't miss THE ACCOMPLICE, the next heart-pounding and intelligent espionage novel from 'master of the genre' (The Washington Post), Joseph Kanon *
'Up there with the very best . . . Kanon writes beautifully, superbly . . . He is the master of the shadows of the era' The Times
From the author of The Good German (made into a film starring George Clooney), Leaving Berlin is a sweeping post-war story and an international bestseller.
Berlin is still in ruins almost four years after the war, caught between political idealism and the harsh realities of Soviet occupation. Alex Meier is a young Jewish writer who fled the Nazis for America before the war. Now, the politics of his youth have left him embroiled in the McCarthy witch-hunts. Faced with deportation and the loss of his family, Alex makes a desperate bargain with the fledgling CIA: he will earn his way back to America by acting as their agent in his native Berlin.
But almost from the start things go fatally wrong. Espionage, like the black market, is still a way of life.
Praise for Leaving Berlin:
‘An unforgettable picture of a city wrecked by defeat and betrayal. Brilliant’ The Times
'Leaving Berlin is hauntingly and beautifully written. You’re going to love it . . . Falling into the book is like falling into a vice; it grips you, pitilessly, until the last page' Richard & Judy Book Club
‘Hugely exciting’ Daily Telegraph
‘One of the most exciting books I’ve read in years’ Alexander McCall Smith, author of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series
‘Brings the hardships and moral decay of post-war Berlin to life in glorious detail’ Daily Express
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
This is one of the best books on the art of spying we’ve read in a long time. It’s also an incredibly powerful portrait of a city in tatters after a war. Our hero is Alex Meier, a young Jewish novelist in Hollywood who is suddenly thrust into the shadowy world of espionage after being caught up in McCarthyism. Sent to a ravaged 1949 Berlin—where he had fled because of the Nazis—he is given an almost impossible mission to complete in order to avoid full deportation. Once in Berlin, we’re treated to a stylish, quite haunting post-war spy thriller with plenty of highest-stakes action and wonderful historical detail.
In his new novel, Kanon (Istanbul Passage) stays firmly in his traditional milieu intrigue in post-World War II Europe with this solid story about a German emigre, Alex Meier, returning to the divided city of East Berlin in 1949. It's not an entirely voluntary return for Meier, a successful novelist who had been working in Hollywood: a refusal to testify about Communists before Congress results in the forced repatriation; if he wants to return to the States, he must become a spy. The book is full of real-life historical figures, mostly writers like Bertolt Brecht, Arnold Zweig, and Ruth Berlau who are, like the fictional Meier, warmly welcomed home by the Communists. Meier's assignment is to spy on the cultural apparatus of East Germany and, in particular, to investigate a state security bigwig, Major General Maltsev, the consort of Elspeth von Bernuth, one of his childhood friends. There's a fair amount of action, including a shootout in a dark street that results in a shocking act of violence, but the appeal of the book is how it conjures the atmosphere of post-War Europe, in the vein of Alan Furst and David Downing. There's too much backstory and the period details sometimes bog down the narrative, but once all the pieces are in place the story hits its stride. Kanon likes to wrestle with the moral dimensions of spying (a la le Carr ) and what's more, he's very good at it.