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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Human and moving story
The destruction of The Berlin Wall is a momentous event than anyone who witnessed it will never forget, it happened so quickly and completely. We will never forget the East Berliners swarming through the breeches, the celebratory mood the excitement, it appeared that everyone was happy about it. OK, questions were asked about the speed of reunification not to mention...
Published on 18 Jan 2012 by I Readalot

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Soft centre
Question: is The Berlin Crossing a potentially good novel stuffed with a dodgy thriller or is it a thriller with a bit extra in the bookending?

After an enigmatic opening scene at the Berlin wall in 1962, Berlin Crossing switches to a post reunification Germany and a schoolteacher, Michael Ritter, struggling to find a niche for himself in the new society. His...
Published on 4 Jan 2012 by MisterHobgoblin


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Human and moving story, 18 Jan 2012
By 
I Readalot (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Berlin Crossing (Paperback)
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The destruction of The Berlin Wall is a momentous event than anyone who witnessed it will never forget, it happened so quickly and completely. We will never forget the East Berliners swarming through the breeches, the celebratory mood the excitement, it appeared that everyone was happy about it. OK, questions were asked about the speed of reunification not to mention how it was going to affect the West. But what about the East Germans? Those who were quite happy with how things were? Not the politicians and Stasi but the ordinary man on the street? `The Berlin Crossing' takes such a man, Michael Ritter and shows how reunification has destroyed his life. Once a respected `card carrying' English teacher, now he is treated with suspicion. His country no-longer exists and he believes that he has no place in this brave new world in a country that is still divided.

On her deathbed his Mother tells him to find Father Bruck the man who knows the truth about his father. He finds him but are some truths better left buried? Michael uses the information he discovers to write the history of his father starting in the Autumn of 1962 in London. It is part cold war spy thriller, part love story and makes for a compelling read.

It is apparent that the author knows Berlin well, I lived in West Berlin myself in the 70's and know what it is like to live surrounded by that wall, to stand on a platform and look over into the East while being watched by border guards. While reading `The Berlin Crossing' I was back there at a time when incredible risks were taken by East German to escape to the West. We are so used to reading the `West good - East bad' kind of story that this makes a refreshing change.

This is a very human and moving story of one man's odyssey to find out the truth about himself the question is will the truth set him free and allow him to pick up the pieces of his life to start again?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars masterful, 20 April 2012
By 
Ioannis Glinavos (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Berlin Crossing (Paperback)
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This is a fantastic book that I thoroughly enjoyed. It is divided in four parts telling interrelated stories. The opening part tells the story of an emotionally lost young man at the point of the collapse of the Berlin Wall. The character of the young man is very well constructed and has an interesting twist: he longs for the days of communism, as he was a very idealistic member of the party. This is very interesting, as one is used in literature covering this period to read about characters who fight the regime. The man's life is thrown upside down by the collapse of his 'homeland' the loss of his job and the death of his mother. It is the latter that provides the core drama in the book, as with her dying words she asks the man to locate the father he never met. This sets him off on a quest to locate this long forgotten father. The following part tells the story of the father and how he came to be in Germany behind the wall as an English spy. I will not reveal more as it will spoil the suspense.All in all a masterful work combining the best of historical novels and spy thrillers that I am confident you will enjoy. If you do like it watch Goodbye Lenin! (2002) [DVD]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deception, discover and abandonment on the streets of Berlin., 29 Jan 2012
By 
JK "Julie K." (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Berlin Crossing (Paperback)
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Have to be very honest and say that I surprised myself by enjoying Berlin Crossing much more than I thought I would. Great credit has to go to Kevin Brophy for the amount of work he obviosuly put into producing a book that's refreshingly original and highly stylish. Runs a tight line between thriller and spy and captures the essence of both without becoming confused or muddled. Brophy develops his lead character with confidence and has no objection to flinging him into situations that are incredibly intense and emotional as he trawls the streets of a much changed Germany after the collapse of the Berlin Wall. This is a guy who has to lose everything in order to find himself again and there's a real feel of loss and abandonment throughout the book on both a personal and a social level. Hard hitting, powerful and, in it's own way, deeply disturbing with an equal blend of violence, anxiety and raw emotion as people are thrown around in the the face of enormous change. Can't say that Berlin Crossing is quick paced and a real page turner, it's not, this is a book that takes some concentration and not one to dip in and out of but it's worth the read. Enjoyed it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant first novel, 5 Jan 2012
By 
Mrs. V. Bradley "bookaholic" (Kidderminster, Worcs., England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Berlin Crossing (Paperback)
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I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I found the characters totally believable. This is really I suppose a book in three parts, each one equally moving and unforgettable. The story begins in Germany with an embittered Michael who does not want to come to terms with the fall of the Berlin Wall, because he is still a communist at heart and favours life as it used to be in the divided city. His relationship with his mother is far from perfect, and he has lost his job as a teacher because of his beliefs. Following his mother's death things will never be the same for Michael. Admittedly this part of the story takes a little while to get going, but it draws the reader on with a need to find out what happens next. The second part takes up the bulk of the novel and eventually takes the reader back to a divided Germany and the world of espionage, love and loss. For me this is how I imagine life on the wrong side of the Berlin wall must have been like, and indeed the author says in his acknowledgements that he spoke to a few former disenchanted members of the GDR and gained some insight in to their lives. Without giving anything away the third part of the book comes almost full circle with Michael discovering his true self. A rattling good read and one I heartily recommend. More please Mr Brophy.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Soft centre, 4 Jan 2012
By 
MisterHobgoblin (Melbourne) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Berlin Crossing (Paperback)
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Question: is The Berlin Crossing a potentially good novel stuffed with a dodgy thriller or is it a thriller with a bit extra in the bookending?

After an enigmatic opening scene at the Berlin wall in 1962, Berlin Crossing switches to a post reunification Germany and a schoolteacher, Michael Ritter, struggling to find a niche for himself in the new society. His wife has left him; his employer leaves him; his mother is dying and he has lost the East Germany in which he believed. He tries to take this phlegmatically but the resentment is clear. He did what he thought was right to support the legitimate government run a legitimate nation. On her deathbed, his mother suggests to him that he should find out more about his father from a paster in a small town outside Berlin. Michael comes trhough as rounded, ambitious and balanced. His only fault was to be on the losing side but he seems realistic in his appraisal of the situation.

Then, the narrative switches to 1962, following Roland Feldmann, an Irishman who gets caught up unwillingly in the world of espionage. By degrees we move from a slightly sub-standard Le Carre and into a love story which stretches credulity. For the most part, it is readable if somewhat predictable. The fly in the ointment, however, is the use of language. Kevin Brophy keeps throwing in phrases in schoolboy German that are then laboriously translated into English. On and on it goes. The thing is, the reader either speaks German and will understand the phrases without translation, or won't and will therefore not bother voicing out the phrases that are not understood. Nicht wahr - isn't that right? Es wird ganz langweilig - it becomes really boring. Kapiert! There's too much reliance on coincidence; too much organisation; too much stage management. People just don't do the kinds of things that Brophy has them doing.

And then, we swing back to 1994 and follow Michael Ritter some more. Whilst Michael himself is an interesting character, the people he meets tend to be rather stereotyped. Terry, in particular, is clichéd in everything he does and says. Ditto Dolly. The final section tries hard to bring things full circle but this makes everything feel too obvious - too forced. It might have been better if the narrative had stopped in Berlin in 1963 and left the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.

The Berlin Crossing does have some redeeming features, though, The first section really does have food for thought, and the depiction of life in East Germany is more thought through than the thrillers written before the fall of the war. Kevin Brophy really does seem to have something to say but it is a pity he has buried it in such an ordinary story. It was perfectly readable; at times it was exciting; but it could have been better.

For a more successful consideration of re-evaluation of socialist lives after the fall of the wall, I thoroughly recommend Jim Powell's The Breaking Of Eggs.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars State Secrets, 26 Dec 2011
By 
D. Elliott (Ulverston, Cumbria) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Berlin Crossing (Paperback)
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It is rare to come across a novel that so convincingly sets out and contrasts heritage and attitudes of both State controlled fearful society and Western open liberal lifestyle. At one level `The Berlin Crossing' is a historical statement from the Cold War involving East Germany and Britain (and others) with reunification of Germany and a changing world, and it has clearly been thoroughly researched by author Kevin Brophy. At other levels as a compelling atmospheric thriller it intertwines patriotism and divided loyalties with a love story and noble deeds. At times it appears all is lost, yet in place of disillusionment and despair there is redemption and hope for the future.

The well written and well-told State secrets story is based on a plausible plot embracing Communist versus Western perspectives with credible coherent characters on both sides. Skilful use is made of the first person singular from the individual who could be regarded as main protagonist, but also employment of third party accounts and details relating to equally strong characters demonstrating heroic features. Together they make `The Berlin Crossing' powerful and persuasive; qualities which are strengthened further by juxtaposition of time periods where after a short prologue describing an incident at the Berlin Wall in 1962 the events take place in Germany in 1993, London 1962, Germany 1962, and finally Ireland to return to Germany in 1994. `The Berlin Crossing' is an exciting and enthralling novel that truly deserves a 5-star rating.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Berlin Wail, 1 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Berlin Crossing (Paperback)
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`The Berlin Crossing' by Kevin Brophy opens with a very interesting idea; what happened to those East Germans who stayed loyal to the Soviet Union after Germany unified? In Michael Ritter's case, he lost his job as a teacher in a prestigious University and was moved on. When his mother died, Michael is left with nothing, but for her intriguing final words; can he discover who his father was? I really enjoyed the character of Michael and felt great sympathy for him. This is a man who followed the rules through his life, only for these rules to be turned upside down. He may have known that many elements of the Soviet Union weren't great, but history is written by the victor and there is no reason a man like Michael may not have done good work.

With Michael being such an intriguing character, it is a shame that more than half of the book goes further back in time to the 1960s and how his father and mother met. This part of the story is far less believable and almost feels like a soppy romance at times. I would have preferred to have spent more time in the company of the alienated Michael, than his lovelorn parents. In the end `The Berlin Crossing' becomes a frustrating book. Brophy does a great job in recreating Berlin of the Cold War and post-Cold War, but fails to create a story that matches this vision.
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3.0 out of 5 stars not the most believable novel, 15 Mar 2012
By 
Jay Rainbow (bolton england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Berlin Crossing (Paperback)
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A flashback to the days of John le carre and Len Deighton, but not nearly as good as those two masters of the craft. The basic story is of a young man facing a crisis in his life in terms of his career and future prospects, who discovers a link with his past in the depth of the Old East Germany, now coming to terms with the unified Germany of today. The style of writing jumps from past to present with relative fluidity. As he travels to the past via the East Germany of today he begins to unravel a tale of intrigue and eventually discovers the truth of his own ancestry.To the connoisseur of cold war period books, however, the basic story is neither believable nor even particularly imaginable. Things seem to happen too easily and the characters seem to get by just that bit too smugly. Even the tale of torture from the past is surrounded in a deal of make believe. I was somewhat disappointed because the story has a great deal of potential and in the hands of Le carre I think it would have been a best seller. As it is, however, this book lacks the fine detail and accurate finesse of the master. Still a good read though and for the younger reader not brought up on treasures of the past, I suspect a greater deal of satisfaction than with myself.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Solid Read, 28 Feb 2012
By 
Coincidence Vs Fate - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Berlin Crossing (Paperback)
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Michael Ritter is an English Teacher, and a card carrying Party member. After unification his world starts to come apart at the seams as he sees his beloved East Germany start to fall to the hunger of capitalism. Before of his political views he is dismissed from his job. To make matters worse his mother falls ill and dies. On her deathbed she tells him to visit a priest in a small town. He does so and so starts the story proper. He learns who is true father is and because Michael is a writer, with the help of papers he is given he begins to learn about his father and fills in the gaps himself.

The story then goes back firstly to early sixties London and then Germany at the height of the Cold War and the Wall. I found this a really fascinating story and wasn't put off like others by the use of German (with an English translation for us non-German speakers). Some of the characters did admittedly feel like Bad Guys By Numbers, but on the whole the story was gripping and the characters believable.

A good read and recommended for anyone who likes their thrillers cold or otherwise.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 14 Feb 2012
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The Emperor (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Berlin Crossing (Paperback)
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This is quite a well written book and it is quite intriguing.
It is partly a spy novel and partly an interesting historical novel.

This book did have quite a lot to recommend it but I thought that it was quite flawed as well.
At times it is over written, the constant short German phrases get quite repetitive and it could be a bit stereotypical.

For me the spy novel part of it could be developed further. It also seemed somewhat unrealistic.
I didn't particularly like the ending and perhaps my main criticism of the book is the inconsistency. Unimportant scenes and characters are dwelled upon at length whilst important scenes and characters are often quickly forgotten.

Despite all of this I did quite like the book and it did keep me reading to the end.
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