The Spring of Kasper Meier by Ben Fergusson

Review published on April 27, 2015. Reviewed by Linda Hepworth

Nudge Reviewer Rating:

It is 1946 and Berlin is a city in ruins; its population desperate. Severe shortages mean that anything and everything can be traded – goods, information, even people. Fifty year old Kasper Meier lives with his frail, elderly father and survives by trading on the black market. One day he is approached by nineteen year old Eva who wants him to track down a British pilot. Although he is initially reluctant, he finally agrees to do so because she knows things about him which enable her to hold the threat of exposure over him. Gradually he is drawn into a shadowy world of danger, lies and deception and yet, in spite of this, his feelings towards Eva become increasingly fond and protective.

I found this an engaging and gripping story. Although it started off rather slowly, I quickly found myself becoming increasingly tense, almost fearful, as the complicated plot unfolded, and as escalating violence threatened all that Kasper held dear. The author’s descriptions of a ruined, anarchic city evoked a very powerful sense of time and place – I felt I could almost smell the city and its people. All of the vividly portrayed characters felt both credible and unforgettable as the author captured their desperation and the erosion of  normal compassion.  Surrounded by gratuitous acts of violence it was little wonder that even the children became feral, as exemplified by Hans and Lena, twelve year old twins whose omnipresence exerted a powerful sense of menace, an ever-present threat of violence towards people they targeted. Yet, although brimming with violence, the story was not without examples of selflessness, humanity and a tenuous belief in the possibility of a better future.

This remarkable debut novel would make an ideal book for reading groups as there are so many themes which are thought-provoking and challenging. I hope that the author is hard at work on his next book!*

– Linda Hepworth

The Spring of Kasper Meier by Ben Fergusson, published by Abacus on 6th January, 2015 at £7.99

* review first published in newbooks magazine, Spring 2015

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