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The Spring of Kasper Meier

On sale

3rd July 2014

Price: £17.99

Authors' Club Best First Novel Award, 2015

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Selected: Audiobook Downloadable / ISBN-13: 9781405530750

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The war is over, but Berlin is a desolate sea of rubble. There is a shortage of everything: food, clothing, tobacco. The local population is scrabbling to get by. Kasper Meier is one of these Germans, and his solution is to trade on the black market to feed himself and his elderly father. He can find anything that people need, for the right price. Even other people.

When a young woman, Eva, arrives at Kasper’s door seeking the whereabouts of a British pilot, he feels a reluctant sympathy for her but won’t interfere in military affairs. But Eva is prepared for this. Kasper has secrets, she knows them, and she’ll use them to get what she wants. As the threats against him mount, Kasper is drawn into a world of intrigue he could never have anticipated. Why is Eva so insistent that he find the pilot? Who is the shadowy Frau Beckmann and what is her hold over Eva?

Under constant surveillance, Kasper navigates the dangerous streets and secrets of a city still reeling from the horrors of war and defeat. As a net of deceit, lies and betrayal falls around him, Kasper begins to understand that the seemingly random killings of members of the occupying forces are connected to his own situation. He must work out who is behind Eva’s demands, and why – while at the same time trying to save himself, his father and Eva.

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Sarah Waters
Beguiling, unsettling, and wonderfully atmospheric. A dark expedition across a nightmarish landscape of physical and emotional damage and moral decay
Sunday Express
Fergusson's debut portrays the desperation of Berlin and its people at a time when a murder could go unnoticed. The plot grows more gripping as the reader navigates its surprising twists and turns
Michèle Roberts
A moody-blue, grimly atmospheric novel exploring amorality and survival in a frightening, unsettling, post-war city
William Ryan, author of The Korolev Mysteries series
A gripping mystery set in a surreal and terrifying post-war Berlin where nothing is quite what it seems. I loved it
Good Book Guide
If reviews are any guide to the quality of crime novels (and one fervently hopes they are) then Ben Fergusson must have been pleased about the notices that his novel The Spring of Kasper Meier received; notices that marked him out as a writer of genuine accomplishment
Manda Scott
A truly outstanding work of fiction that will, I hope enter into the canon of English literature. It takes the known tragedies of the Second World War and extends them into what was, for most of the judges, an unknown arena: Berlin in the immediate aftermath of war, when the city was in ruins and the rubble gangs foraged for survival. The reality of it, the horror, was visceral and yet told with an immense and compassionate beauty. It's a masterpiece. To have written it as a first novel is an exceptional achievement
Peter Kemp
A superbly atmospheric novel with a thrilling suspenseful storyline running through it. Amid the rubble of post-war Berlin, characters scrabble to survive and to rebuild shattered lives. Damage is on view everywhere - devastated buildings, people damaged physically, psychologically and emotionally, legal and social structures in ruins . . . Ben Fergusson's grittily evocative novel, historically knowledgeable and piercing in its scrutiny of morally ambiguous characters, political murkiness and a world quivering with suspicion and jeopardy, impressively recalls Graham Greene's The Third Man
Similarly intelligent is Ben Fergusson's The Spring of Kasper Meier . . . the real coup here is the evocation of a minatory, crazy-quilt 1940s Berlin
Sunday Mirror
The plot is tight, but it's the unflinching depiction of a desperate world in post-war Berlin, conveyed in beautiful prose, that makes this thriller so powerful
Jake Arnott, bestselling author of The Long Firm
A powerful evocation of shattered lives trying to reconnect - and a heartbreaking story of the pain of compassion
Tim Pears, author of In The Light of Morning
What I loved about this book were two things above all: firstly, a moment in time and place - devastated post-war Berlin - in which things were done that one knew nothing about, and were shocking. Secondly, he brought Kasper and Eva and the others' experience to pungent physical life with his sensual description of sight, sound, and above all smell. It was real on the page. A great achievement and a tremendous debut
Sunday Times
Fergusson has already won two awards for this gripping and atmospheric debut, a thriller set amid the rubble of a defeated Berlin in 1945...What follows is original and highly accomplished
Allan Massie, Scotsman
The finest thing in the novel is the imaginative recreation of time and place, the bombed and ruined city over which the past hangs darkly, where no possible future can yet be envisaged . . . A decidedly accomplished first novel . . . where the keenness of observation and the rhythms of the prose call Graham Greene to mind
Mike Gayle
A hauntingly evocative tale of post-war Berlin and the heartbreak and mysteries war leaves in its wake
Tania Findlay, Sun
A formidable first novel - I loved it