Then We Take Berlin: A Novel

Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
2
Free sample

“A stylish spy thriller” of postwar Berlin—the first in a thrilling new series from the acclaimed author of the Inspector Troy novels (The New York Times Book Review).
 
John Wilfrid Holderness—aka Joe Wilderness—has gone from young Cockney cardsharp surviving the London Blitz to MI6 agent navigating war-ravaged Europe to his current career of “free-agent gumshoe” weathering Cold War fears and hard-luck times. Now he’s being drawn back into the secret ops business when an ex-CIA agent asks him to spearhead one last venture: smuggle a vulnerable woman out of East Berlin.
 
Arriving in Germany, it doesn’t take long for Wilderness to discover he’s become an unwitting pawn in a deadly game of atomic proportions. To survive it, Wilderness must follow a serpentine trail through his past, into the confidence of an unexpected lover, and go dangerously deep into a black market scam the likes of which Berlin has never seen.
 
The author of the acclaimed Inspector Troy series, “Lawton’s gift for atmosphere, memorable characters and intelligent plotting has been compared to John le Carré. . . . Never mind the comparisons—Lawton can stand up on his own, and Then We Take Berlin is a gem” (The Seattle Times).
 
“[The Joe Wilderness novels] are meticulously researched, tautly plotted, historical thrillers in the mold of World War II and Cold War fiction by novelists like Alan Furst, Phillip Kerr, Eric Ambler, David Downing and Joseph Kanon.” —The Wall Street Journal
 
“[It] will thrill readers with an interest in WWII and the early Cold War era.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
 
“A wonderfully complex and nuanced thriller.” —Kirkus Reviews
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About the author

John Lawton is the author of ten novels, including Second Violin, Flesh Wounds, and Bluffing Mr. Churchill. His thriller Black Out won a WH Smith Fresh Talent Award, A Little White Death was named a New York Times Notable Book, and his latest novel A Lily of the Field was named one of the best thrillers of the year by Marilyn Stasio of the New York Times. At the moment he lives in Derbyshire, England, but can often be found (or lost) elsewhere.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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Published on
Sep 3, 2013
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Pages
400
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ISBN
9780802193087
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Mystery & Detective / International Mystery & Crime
Fiction / Thrillers / Espionage
Fiction / Thrillers / Historical
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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A British agent is drawn to Berlin’s bridge of spies in this “superlative Cold War espionage story” from the author of the acclaimed Inspector Troy series (The Seattle Times).
 
It’s the summer of 1961, and the inscrutable Khrushchev is developing plans for something that could change the fate of the Cold War. As he and Kennedy gamble with the fate of millions of lives, Cockney East-Ender-turned-spy Joe Wilderness is thrust into the conflict. Enlisted by MI6 to set up office in Berlin, Wilderness returns to the city where he spent his postwar years, where a former paramour is under threat, and where the dividing line between the West and the Soviets will soon be crossed.
 
As the Russians start building the wall, two agents find themselves trapped on opposing sides: an unfortunate Englishman in the Lubyanka in Moscow, and a KGB operative in London’s Wormwood Scrubs. Now, Wilderness has a new mission: Swap the prisoners on Berlin’s bridge of spies. But, as a former black marketer, Wilderness is also working a personal angle—just to make it interesting, just to make it profitable, just to make it a little more dangerous. What can possibly go wrong?
 
Named by the Daily Telegraph as one of “50 Crime Writers to Read before You Die,” John Lawton is “quite possibly the best historical novelist we have” (The Philadelphia Inquirer).
 
“[The Joe Wilderness novels] are meticulously researched, tautly plotted, historical thrillers in the mold of World War II and Cold War fiction by novelists like Alan Furst, Phillip Kerr, Eric Ambler, David Downing and Joseph Kanon.” —The Wall Street Journal
 
“Rich, inventive, surprising, informed, bawdy, cynical, heartbreaking and hilarious. However much you know about postwar Berlin, Lawton will take you deeper into its people, conflicts and courage. . . . Spy fiction at its best.” —The Washington Post
 
New York Times Notable Book * NPR Best Books 2015 * Wall Street Journal Best Books of 2015

The acclaimed author of The Good German “deftly captures the ambience” (The New York Times Book Review) of postwar East Berlin in his “thought-provoking, pulse-pounding” (Wall Street Journal) New York Times bestseller—a sweeping spy thriller about a city caught between political idealism and the harsh realities of Soviet occupation.

Berlin, 1948. Almost four years after the war’s end, the city is still in ruins, a physical wasteland and a political symbol about to rupture. In the West, a defiant, blockaded city is barely surviving on airlifted supplies; in the East, the heady early days of political reconstruction are being undermined by the murky compromises of the Cold War. Espionage, like the black market, is a fact of life. Even culture has become a battleground, with German intellectuals being lured back from exile to add credibility to the competing sectors.

Alex Meier, a young Jewish writer, fled the Nazis for America before the war. But the politics of his youth have now put him in the crosshairs of the McCarthy witch-hunts. Faced with deportation and the loss of his family, he 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. A kidnapping misfires, an East German agent is killed, and Alex finds himself a wanted man. Worse, he discovers his real assignment—to spy on the woman he left behind, the only woman he has ever loved. Changing sides in Berlin is as easy as crossing a sector border. But where do we draw the lines of our moral boundaries? At betrayal? Survival? Murder? Joseph Kanon’s compelling thriller is a love story that brilliantly brings a shadowy period of history vividly to life.
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