Perfect for fans of Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada and The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Simon Mawer - tightly plotted, emotionally gripping and a brilliant sense of place and period.
Berlin, 1946. Everything is in short supply. Including the truth.
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.
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 - Scotsman
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 - Sunday Mirror
Ben Fergusson's The Spring of Kasper Meier is 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 - Manda Scott
A formidable first novel. I loved it. - The Sun
Fergusson's debut portrays the desperation of Berlin and its people at a time when a murder could go unnoticed - Sunday Express
A gripping mystery set in a surreal and terrifying post-war Berlin where nothing is quite what it seems. I loved it.
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. A great achievement and a tremendous debut.
A powerful evocation of shattered lives trying to reconnect - and a heartbreaking story of the pain of compassion.
Ben Fergusson's debut novel, The Spring of Kasper Meier, was awarded the Betty Trask Prize and the HWA Debut Crown, and was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award. The Other Hoffmann Sister and An Honest Man complete a trilogy of novels set in the same apartment block in Berlin at key moments in the city's twentieth-century history. Ben lives in Berlin with his husband and son and teaches at the University of Potsdam.