Then We Take Berlin [NOOK Book]

Overview

John Holderness, known to the women in his life as 'Wilderness', comes of age during World War II in Stepney, East London, breaking in to houses with his grandfather.

After the war, Wilderness is recruited as MI5's resident 'cat burglar' and finds himself in Berlin, involved with schemes in the booming black market that put both him and his relationships in danger.

In 1963 it is a most unusual and lucrative request that persuades Wilderness to ...

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Then We Take Berlin

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Overview

John Holderness, known to the women in his life as 'Wilderness', comes of age during World War II in Stepney, East London, breaking in to houses with his grandfather.

After the war, Wilderness is recruited as MI5's resident 'cat burglar' and finds himself in Berlin, involved with schemes in the booming black market that put both him and his relationships in danger.

In 1963 it is a most unusual and lucrative request that persuades Wilderness to return - to smuggle someone under the Berlin Wall and out of East Germany. But this final scheme may prove to be one challenge too far...

Then We Take Berlin is a gripping, meticulously researched and richly detailed historical thriller - a moving story of espionage and war, and people caught up in the most tumultuous events of the twentieth century.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Marilyn Stasio
…a splendid introduction to John Wilfrid (Wilderness) Holderness…enthralling…[and] harrowing…
Publishers Weekly
This intelligent first in a new series from Lawton (A Lily of the Field and six other Inspector Troy thrillers) opens on the eve of President Kennedy’s 1963 Berlin visit, but the real meat lies in the compelling backstory of John Wilford Holderness, an East London Cockney who joins the RAF in 1946. Aircraftman Wilderness (or “Joe Wilderness,” as he prefers to be called) is cheeky to the point of risking court-martial, but an RAF colonel spots Joe’s potential, sends him to Cambridge, and makes him a spy. Joe is posted in 1947 to Berlin, where he tries to identify former Nazis (while making a packet in black market trading), and falls in love with Nell Burkhardt, a German woman who by 1963 is an aide to Mayor Willi Brandt. Despite a relatively weak subplot about the effort to smuggle a woman out of East Berlin, this is a wonderfully written and generally wise book that will thrill readers with an interest in WWII and the early Cold War era. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

—A Publishers Weekly “Big Book” of Fall 2013

“John Lawton’s stylish spy thriller, Then We Take Berlin, is a splendid introduction to John Wilfrid (Wilderness) Holderness, born a Cockney guttersnipe, trained in various criminal enterprises by his grandfather and transformed into a British intelligence operative during World War II. . . .[An] enthralling story of Wilderness’s adventures in espionage and Lawton’s harrowing descriptions of life in the battered nations of Europe in 1945, when the war was over but never seemed to end.”—New York Times Book Review

“Lawton’s gift for atmosphere, memorable characters and intelligent plotting has been compared to John le Carré, but his dry humor also invokes the late Ross Thomas. . . . Never mind the comparisons—Lawton can stand up on his own, and Then We Take Berlin is a gem.”—The Seattle Times

“A dangerous assignment in East Berlin is fraught with complex memories from postwar Europe. . . . A wonderfully complex and nuanced thriller.”—Kirkus Reviews

"Lawton captures both the immediate postwar and midcentury landscapes perfectly, stirring elements of Graham Greene, John le Carré, and the great Ross Thomas' too-little-known McCorkle and Padillo novels into a superbly well-built Cold War cocktail—bracing, deliriously delicious, but carrying the slightly bitter aftertaste of dreams gone bad."—Booklist (starred review)

“This intelligent first in a new series from Lawton (A Lily of the Field and six other Inspector Troy thrillers) opens on the eve of President Kennedy’s 1963 Berlin visit, but the real meat lies in the compelling backstory of John Wilford Holderness, an East London Cockney who joins the RAF in 1946. . . . A wonderfully written and generally wise book that will thrill readers with an interest in WWII and the early Cold War era.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Absolute dynamite in a trench coat . . . Don’t miss this one!”—I Love A Mystery Newsletter

“A thriller that is sure to have any fan of John Le Carré’s Smiley novels gripped.”—Crime Fiction Lover

“[Then We Take Berlin] is a stand-alone novel outside [Lawton’s] wonderful ‘Troy’ series, set in Berlin in 1963 . . . it is extremely good.”—Deadly Pleasures

“A very captivating read.”—Fantasy Book Critic

Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-15
A dangerous assignment in East Berlin is fraught with complex memories from postwar Europe. London, 1963. John Holderness gets a late call from expansive Frank Spoleto, a big New York advertising exec, offering him a well-paying job. So close is their bond that Holderness, known as Wilderness due to his raucous past, agrees without further details. After reminiscing with Wilderness about their days together at MI6, Frank asks him to get his partner Steve's beloved Aunt Hannah out of East Berlin. A flashback to 1941 presents Holderness at 13. His mother, Lily, has just been killed in a pub by a Luftwaffe air raid. His violent father, Harry, is away in the service, so Wilderness moves in with his granddad Abner and his sexy, much younger wife, Merle. Abner and Wilderness make a decent living as burglars. When Abner dies after a big job, Merle helps Wilderness avoid prosecution. As the war draws to a close, Wilderness is called up to serve. Contemptuous of authority, he barely escapes court martial, rescued only by his impressive scores on intelligence tests. Fast tracked into the spy game, he uses his criminal skills to avenge himself on colleagues who irk him. Then he falls in love with Nell, a young German woman deeply scarred by the war. And when he undertakes Frank's caper nearly 20 years later, whom should he encounter but...? A wonderfully complex and nuanced thriller, first in a new series, by the creator of Inspector Troy (A Lily of the Field, 2010, etc.).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802193087
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/3/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 100,200
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author


John Lawton is the author of ten novels, including Second Violin, Flesh Wounds, and Bluffing Mr. Churchill. His thriller Black Out won a WH Smith Fresh Talent Award, A Little White Death was named a New York Times notable book, and his latest novel A Lily of the Field was named one of the best thrillers of the year by Marilyn Stasio of The New York Times. He lives in Derbyshire, England.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2013

    Then We Take Berlin is an exceptional historical thriller that i

    Then We Take Berlin is an exceptional historical thriller that is also a deeply moving story of post World War II Germany - the destructive power of war on humans and places and all that was considered normal.
    As a thriller it is excellent with a new character, Joe Wilderness, taking centre stage along with some old friends from the Inspector Troy series showing up. Bravo Mr. Lawton! This is an outstanding novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2013

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