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The Spring of Kasper Meier Hardcover – 3 Jul 2014

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown (3 July 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408705044
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408705049
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 3.3 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 216,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ben Fergusson is a writer, editor and translator. Born in Southampton in 1980, he studied English Literature at Warwick University and Modern Languages at Bristol University, and has worked for ten years as an editor and publisher in the art world.

His short fiction has appeared in publications in both the UK and the US and has won and been shortlisted for a range of prizes, including the 2010 Bridport Prize. From 2009-2010 he edited the literary journal Chroma and since 2013 has been the editor of the short story magazine Oval Short Fiction. Currently based in London, his first novel, The Spring of Kasper Meier, was written during a four-year period living and working in Berlin.

Product Description


Fergusson's debut portrays the desperation of Berlin and its people at a time when a murder could go unnoticed. The plot grows more gripping as the reader navigates its surprising twists and turns (Sunday Express)

Similarly intelligent is Ben Fergusson's The Spring of Kasper Meier . . . the real coup here is the evocation of a minatory, crazy-quilt 1940s Berlin (Independent)

The finest thing in the novel is the imaginative recreation of time and place, the bombed and ruined city over which the past hangs darkly, where no possible future can yet be envisaged . . . A decidedly accomplished first novel . . . where the keenness of observation and the rhythms of the prose call Graham Greene to mind (Allan Massie Scotsman)

A formidable first novel - I loved it (Tania Findlay Sun)

A powerful evocation of shattered lives trying to reconnect - and a heartbreaking story of the pain of compassion (Jake Arnott, bestselling author of The Long Firm)

A gripping mystery set in a surreal and terrifying post-war Berlin where nothing is quite what it seems. I loved it (William Ryan, author of The Korolev Mysteries series)

What I loved about this book were two things above all: firstly, a moment in time and place - devastated post-war Berlin - in which things were done that one knew nothing about, and were shocking. Secondly, he brought Kasper and Eva and the others' experience to pungent physical life with his sensual description of sight, sound, and above all smell. It was real on the page. A great achievement and a tremendous debut (Tim Pears, author of In The Light of Morning)

The plot is tight, but it's the unflinching depiction of a desperate world in post-war Berlin, conveyed in beautiful prose, that makes this thriller so powerful (Sunday Mirror)

Book Description

The launch of a brilliant new British talent, perfect for fans of Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 3 July 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This evocative novel will catapult you in post war Berlin. It is spring, 1946, and Berlin is a city of rubble, with inhabitants on the verge of starvation and soldiers everywhere – British, American, French and, of course, Russian. Kasper Meier lives in a fifth floor apartment with his elderly father and does his best to get by. He has survived the bombings, the occupation and the animosity of his neighbours and now he spends his days trading on the black market. However, one day a young woman arrives on his doorstep. Eva Hirsch has heard that he is good at finding people and has been sent by the elusive Frau Beckmann to ask him to discover the whereabouts of a British pilot. Kasper is not keen to get involved, but he has a secret and Eva has been told to resort to blackmail...

This is a novel with a very real sense of time and place. Berlin is very much a ruined city and those still alive are half relieved and half afraid of what is to come. Rubble women work at clearing the bomb sites, while ducking out of sight if soldiers appear. The real sense of fear after the abuses of many soldiers during the occupation is apparent. Children are described almost as feral, combing the streets for food or throwing stones; exposed to such horrors that their childhood is blighted, perhaps forever. Among the best characters that haunt this book are Frau Beckmann’s twins – the sinister Hans and Lena. As well as having to discover the whereabouts of the pilot, Kasper has to deal with threats and violence. Yet, to add to the level of unease on the streets, members of the military are being killed. Afraid for himself, and for Eva, Kasper must discover what is really beneath the request he has been given.

I found this a very moving novel.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Laura Smith VINE VOICE on 14 Sept. 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book was not what I expected. I've read a lot of books based around the time of the Second World War, but none like this. Set in Berlin after the war ended, this uncovers a world that I had never thought about previously. A world in which the defeated Germans are scrabbling around to make a living and to find enough food to survive. Women prostitute themselves to survive, the balck market is thriving, the world is still a very dangerous place. And, for Kasper Meier, life as a gay man is exceedingly difficult. Drawn in through his detective and black market connections to a mystery, he finds himself in too deep and eventually unwilling to extricate himself from a girl whom he ends up seeing as a daughter. It's in equal parts scary and very lovely, and this book kept surprising me. I really enjoyed it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Keen Reader TOP 100 REVIEWER on 14 Feb. 2015
Format: Paperback
In April 1946 Berlin is a city of ruins. Those who remain there are often without any options; black marketers, rubble women, soldiers of the occupying forces, desperate men and women who shiver inside broken buildings, scavenging, trading, stealing what they can’t do without. Kasper Meier is one of the Berliners; at 50 years of age, having fought in the First War, his damaged eye saved him from fighting in this War, but life is no easier because of it. His elderly father and his past bind him closer to Berlin than any chains. But Kasper’s life is about to be shaken out of its normal track, and his past is threatening to catch up with him.

This is a brilliant debut novel, really astonishing in its evocation of Berlin post-War. It felt like you were ‘watching’ a ‘film noir’; a black-and-white, smoky play of shadows, jagged edges of broken buildings, single candles lighting windows of abandoned apartments, forwarding addresses marked on apartment numbers for men who will never come home, rubble strewn over the streets, bodies unearthed from their wartime tombs, grey-skinned men and women with haunted eyes.

This story is about Kasper Meier, but it is about Berlin as well. It is a story about a world where people live as best they can, never looking too far forward, but wondering when this shadowed half-life will become something better; a world where the past, not only of Kasper, but of the Germans themselves, continues to haunt the people who try to survive in their broken city. There is a mystery which Kasper must solve, but the book itself is about much more than that.

I found this book utterly enthralling; the story itself is complex and compelling, and the author’s writing style is evocative, visual, insistent and very ‘real’.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Cathy on 14 Jan. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
Set in Berlin in post war 1946, with everything in extremely short supply, Kasper Meier trades information and deals in goods for the black market in order to keep himself and his elderly, sick father alive. He lives in one room in a half bombed out building where he secretes anything and everything that might be even remotely saleable. Kasper is despised for being homosexual, still illegal at the time, and tries to be as inconspicuous as possible. But when he is visited by one of the rubble women, Eva, a young girl who wants help finding information about a British pilot, he is drawn into a deadly web of intrigue.

Berlin is a devastated, rubble strewn and dangerous city where the inhabitants struggle to survive, living by their wits. Some work clearing the rubble, others trade their bodies. Corruption is rife, lawlessness prevalent and soldiers thought guilt of rape are being found murdered.

Frau Beckmann, a shadowy and elusive figure, who seems to control many of the girls, including Eva Hirsch, knows Kasper’s secret and is blackmailing him into finding the information she seeks. Despite fearing for his own life, Kasper feels afraid and sorry for Eva, and determines to find out what he can about Frau Beckmann and what her hold over the girls is. The more Kasper digs, the more sinister things appear. Nothing is as it seems and Kasper is drawn ever deeper into Beckmann’s machinations and the ensuing menace.
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