Bettina lies unconscious on the subway tracks. Hanno, Stasi agent and her former lover, is gaining fast on the fugitives. Will she and Thomas make it out alive? Will Hanno shoot them before the next train thunders through?
Berlin, 1989. The Soviet empire is close to financial collapse. The East German public is rioting. The Party is falling apart and the dreaded Stasi is working corruptly to secure its leaders' futures. In Dresden KGB agent Vladimir Putin sets out to exploit this for his own benefit.
West Berlin economics student and small time currency blackmarketeer Thomas Wundart has been trapped into spying for the feared East German security organisation, the Stasi. His target is his oldest and best friend, Stephan, now important in West German finance as personal assistant to the head of Deutsche Bank and key to critical financial information the Stasi wants.
Thomas's Stasi manager is Bettina - beautiful, intelligent, strong-minded and feisty - and Thomas's emotions swing wildly between his growing infatuation with her and his fury at her icy control. He senses she's attracted to him but loyalty to her country come first.
After the Berlin Wall opens in November Colonel Dieter, a high ranking Stasi officer recognised for his integrity and loyalty to East Germany, sends Bettina and Thomas on a highly secret and very dangerous mission to Dresden and the Stasi HQ where they discover financial fraud, blackmail and murder. They learn also of a mysterious Frankfurt-based organisation with Stasi links, Phoenix Securities, which looks to benefit hugely from currency manipulation on unification.
Recalled urgently to Berlin with hard evidence of Stasi corruption at the highest levels they find tragedy. Realising the serious danger they're now in they hide away in a secret East Berlin flat before making a perilous run for it, desperately fleeing for their lives towards the West.
This is a taut, urgent, fast-paced thriller set in a totalitarian state in the very recent past. It cleverly mixes real events and real people with an imaginative telling of a gripping tale about financial fraud, chicanery and dodgy politics, hard to put down. The story involves greed, totalitarian brutality, murder and betrayal, love and integrity, Western arrogance and ignorance, and also a fierce commitment to justice. The characters are rounded and real and grow and develop as the story unfolds. Does crime pay? Will Bettina and Thomas both escape? Will the financial mastermind behind Phoenix make a killing? And what about Hanno and Putin? Because it's all there, waiting for you to find out, best get a copy of the book now before the price rises!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In the end, this book proved to be a very entertaining story with a twist at the end that I should have suspected but didn’t see coming. However, getting to the end was a challenge and to my mind, started so slowly that I repeatedly laid the book down determined not to waste time with it. However, I came back to it and pushed on determined, I suppose, to see what the fate of the poor souls determined to flee East Berlin through a cave might be. What I eventually found was a tale of corruption at the highest levels in which senior officials plot to enrich themselves in the economic confusion left over from the reunification of Germany. Thomas and Bettina, the main characters, are caught up in events beyond their control. Furthermore, the events that occur will challenge their loyalty to others…Bettina torn between her loyalty to her Stasi boss and her loyalty to the leaders of her country, and Thomas’s loyalty to his friend, Stephan, upon whom he is forced to spy by Bettina’s boss. At stake is a conspiracy based on the exchange rates between West German and East German currencies at the time of reunification to make millions of Deutsche Marks at the expense of the East German people. The plot is excellent, but depends upon complicated politics and currency principles that many readers will either not understand or be willing to muddle through. The story may better be told with less focus on the economics and politics and more focus on the characters and story line; unless, as in most historic fiction, the author’s real purpose is to educate readers to factors underlying the reunification of Germany rather than to merely tell the story. If that’s the case, I feel the history lesson will be missed by many readers. The Helsinki Pact is generally well written, but the latter parts of the book contain numerous typographical errors. They are not fatal flaws but do catch attention when encountered. Historic fiction buffs, those who like stories of political upheaval, stories of spies and tales of people caught in webs of intrigue created by the conspiracies of others, should love The Helsinki Pact. The first half required patience, but eventually the book earned 4-Stars.