The Berlin Exchange

Scribner. Feb. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9781982158651. $28. THRILLER
A master stylist of concise yet eloquent writing, Kanon (The Accomplice) recreates the corrupt atmosphere of East Berlin in 1963, to riveting effect. When American spy and physicist Martin Keller walked into East Berlin in a prisoner exchange in 1963, he thought he was free for good. A research job at a famous institute awaited him. So did a reunion with his ex-wife Sabine and young son. Martin was grateful to Sabine’s new husband Kurt Thiele, a fixer who arranged the swap. But Soviet handlers yanked Martin back into harness as a spy; his new life was another prison. Can he escape with his boy and the woman he still loves to make a new start in the West? Kanon’s books are a gold mine for lovers of espionage. Here he tackles the morality of the humanitarian exchange of political prisoners, a program that filled East Germany’s coffers.
VERDICT Kanon baits the hook with an early murder and adds seduction and betrayal to bring about the grim conclusion. Fans of Alan Furst and John le Carré will include Kanon as the third member of a Cold War troika.
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