Tuesday, March 12, 2024

The Berlin Letters by Katherine Reay

Near the end of the Cold War, a CIA code breaker discovers a symbol she recognizes from her childhood, which launches her across the world to the heart of Berlin just before the wall comes tumbling down. 

November 1989 —After finding a secret cache of letters with intelligence buried in the text, CIA cryptographer Luisa Voekler learns that not only is her father alive but he is languishing in an East German Stasi jail. After piecing together the letters with a series of articles her grandfather saved, Luisa seeks out journalists Bran Bishop and Daniel Rudd. They send her to the CIA, to Andrew Cademan—her boss. Luisa confronts Cademan and learns that nothing is a coincidence, but he will not help her free her father. So she takes matters into her own hands, empties her bank account, and flies to West Berlin. 

As the adrenaline wears off and she recognizes she has no idea how to proceed, Luisa is both relieved and surprised when a friend shows up with contacts and a rudimentary plan to sneak her across the wall. Alternating storylines between Luisa and her father, The Berlin Letters shows the tumultuous early days of the wall, bringing Berlin, the epicenter of the Cold War, to life while also sharing one family’s journey through secrets, lies, and division to love, freedom, and reconciliation.

Paperback, 368 pages
Published March 5, 2024
 by Harper Muse
5/5 stars

Katherine Reay is a new author for me, after reading this one I have gone on to explore her backlist, and have already polished one off. I guess you could say that is an indication of how I felt about her writing.

The Berlin Wall went up in 1961, I have memories of it being demolished in 1989, but  with no inkling about the Cold War and what that wall really truly stood for. This book was an eye-opener as it takes place the day the wall went up and ends when the wall goes down. It is told with two timelines involving the same family. Not only was it a lesson in History, but showed the political and emotional sides of what transpired. Suffice to say, I really enjoyed reading this book, the characters were real, the situations authentic, the resilience and determination of individuals with showcased.

I read this last month and for some reason posting my review was delayed. I highly recommend this to historical fiction lovers that like something off the beat in track.

My thanks to Harper Muse for a print arc in exchange for a honest review.

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