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Sunday, 21 June 2015

'The Spring of Kasper Meier' by Ben Fergusson

Published by Abacus,
6 January 2015. 
ISBN 978-0-349-13976-0

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

Ben Fergusson is a writer, editor and translator. Born in Southampton in 1980, he studied English Literature at Warwick University and Modern Languages at Bristol University, and has worked for ten years as an editor and publisher in the art world.His short fiction has appeared in publications in both the UK and the US and has won and been shortlisted for a range of prizes, including the 2010 Bridport Prize. From 2009-2010 he edited the literary journal Chroma and since 2013 has been the editor of the short story magazine Oval Short Fiction. Currently based in London, his first novel, The Spring of Kasper Meier, was written during a four-year period living and working in Berlin.

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

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