In the mid-1980s, just as Cold War tensions appear to be easing, Major Tom Fox is sent on an unusual mission to bring back a defector from behind the Iron Curtain. In no time flat he’s accused of murder, abandoned by his agency and left to fend for himself on the bleak streets of Berlin – where no seems trustworthy, and his friends may wish him more harm than his enemies…
This is the second of Jack Grimwood’s historical espionage adventures and, yes, it does help if you have read the first one – Moskva – before sitting down with Berlin. There’s enough back-story to carry you along with this one, but you’ll appreciate the depth, nuance and complexity of the supporting cast if you know what happened last time out.
Grimwood’s writing is extremely engaging, deftly portraying a convincing sense of time and place without tripping you up with writerly mischief or impenetrable ‘style.’
There are a couple of scenes (can’t say which ones, but you’ll know when you get there) that are as edge-of-your-seat nail-biting gut-churning hide-behind-the-sofa as any Hitchcock flick.
Tension? Just a lot. Unpredictable outcomes? Couldn’t possibly say…
My one complaint: the central revelation explores an unpleasant theme, one which seems to be the pivot-point for almost every crime novel these days. Yes, this phenomenon is a reality, and yes it is entirely appalling. But surely there must be some white, middle class males of a certain generation who aren’t guilty…
That aside, this is a wonderfully intricate and evocative espionage thriller, with a convincing cast of characters that’d do Desmond Bagley proud.
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
Nightfall Berlin by Jack Grimwood is available in various formats at Amazon
Meet JJ Stoner, a complex contract killer
Ideal for readers of The Winter Of Frankie Machine or Derek Raymond’s Factory novels. Just £1.99 at Amazon