Alex Meier has made a devil’s bargain. In exchange for making the McCarthy Committee’s investigations into his youthful fling with communism before World War II go away, the CIA wants him to return to Berlin and act as their spy. They want him to accept the invitation of the Kulturbund Committee of Berlin, who want to gather all the anti fascist authors, playwrights and artists who fled Germany during the war, to celebrate their art and hope it will fuel a renaissance of art now that the war is over. Alex, a socialist Jew, who is the author of several books that were highly regarded and was expelled from Germany because of his anti fascist themes, has just the right credentials to create a good cover for the spy the CIA needs. Returning to Berlin to see if he can find some of his relatives and friends is attractive, but the promise that this would remove any doubts abut his communist past and allow him to have visitation rights to see his son after his divorce is what ultimately makes him willing to go.
Alex returns to a Berlin that he can scarcely recognize. Even four years after the war, the rubble of former homes still remains, food is hard to find and people struggle to find work and normality in this city that is in the hands of competing interests. He quickly realizes that things are also much more complicated that he was lead to believe. The person they want him to spy on is Irene, the woman Alex loved but abandoned when he left Germany. A simple visit to his former family home implicates him in the death of an East German spy and soon Alex begins to suspect that he cannot trust anyone, not even his own CIA handlers.
Kanon is masterful in recreating Berlin in 1948. The horrors of war are still all around, but somehow life must go on. and he describes these competing interests vividly. Kanon develops his characters well, and Alex grows in complexity as he faces mounting pressures and morally complex choices. This is a thinking person’s spy novel, filled with moral ambiguity, difficult choices, and imminent danger. Known for Istanbul Passage and The Good German ,which was made into a popular movie, Kanon is claiming his place among the greats of spy literature!
Brenda’s Rating ****( 4 Stars out of 5)
Recommend this book to: Ken, Marian and Keith
Book Study Worthy? Yes
Read in ebook format.