6 January 2015.
We get a real feel for the atmosphere in Berlin in 1946 - the destruction, the secrets and fears, the people creeping out of their ruined buildings to get food and other necessities, and the omnipresent troops, Russian and others. The appalling conditions for the survivors are realistically described - starkly and unflinchingly. The rubble women who clear the debris of a destroyed Berlin, brick by brick feature strongly.
Kasper Meier is a survivor whose manipulation of the pitiful supplies of cigarettes, medicines and anything of marketable value is masterly as he manages a personal network of connections. Suddenly this is threatened as he meets a rubble woman called Eva. He is subjected to blackmail to force him to find a British pilot. He moves through nightmare conditions in the ruined city trying to identify the threats to him and to others. The sources of the threats and the reasons for what is happening are hard to discover and even harder to counter. He builds a relationship of sorts with Eva and wants to save her from these threats as well as saving himself and his father.
Kasper's battle for survival is a harsh one and the convoluted route he follows towards the distant possibility of elucidation and the even more distant hope of escape is fascinating to follow.
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer