The Berlin Exchange: A Novel (Hardcover)

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The Berlin Exchange: A Novel (Hardcover)


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Staff Reviews

Joseph Kanon, author of Istanbul Passage and The Good German is one of the true masters of this genre. Historical accuracy coupled with suspenseful story telling resonates throughout his work. A prisoner swap in Berlin at the height of the Cold War sets the stage for this thrilling espionage tale.

— Andy

From “master of the genre” (The Washington Post) Joseph Kanon, an espionage thriller set at the height of the Cold War, when a captured American who has spied for the KGB is swapped by the British and returns to East Berlin needing to know who arranged his release and what they want from him.

Berlin. 1963. The height of the Cold War. An early morning spy swap, not at the familiar setting for such exchanges, or at Checkpoint Charlie, where international visitors cross into the East, but at a more discreet border crossing, usually reserved for East German VIPs. The Communists are trading two American students caught helping people to escape over the wall and an aging MI6 operative. On the other side of the trade: Martin Keller, a physicist who once made headlines, but who then disappeared into the English prison system. Keller’s most critical possession: his American passport. Keller’s most ardent desire: to see his ex-wife Sabine and their young son.

The exchange is made with the formality characteristic of these swaps. But Martin has other questions: who asked for him? Who negotiated the deal? The KGB? He has worked for the service long enough to know that nothing happens by chance. They want him for something. Not physics—his expertise is out of date. Something else, which he cannot learn until he arrives in East Berlin, when suddenly the game is afoot.

Filled with intriguing characters, atmospheric detail, and plenty of action Kanon’s latest espionage thriller is one you won’t soon forget.
Joseph Kanon is the Edgar Award–winning author of The AccompliceDefectorsLeaving Berlin, Istanbul PassageLos AlamosThe Prodigal SpyAlibiStardust, and The Good German, which was made into a major motion picture starring George Clooney and Cate Blanchett. He lives in New York City.
Product Details ISBN: 9781982158651
ISBN-10: 1982158654
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: February 22nd, 2022
Pages: 320
Language: English
The Berlin Exchange, by the veteran spy-story author Joseph Kanon, expertly describes what happens when a disillusioned former agent tries to come in from the cold. . . . Kanon vividly evokes the suspicion, hypocrisy and relentless grayness of life in the East. . . . the plot shifts into high gear and turns into a complex, high-stakes operation in which Martin, thrillingly, is pulling all the strings. He’s one step ahead of his enemies, and three steps ahead of us.” —Sarah Lyall, The New York Times Book Review

"In Joseph Kanon’s skillful telling, Keller’s elaborate scheme for escaping with his family to the West is heart-poundingly suspenseful." Washington Post

"[A] masterly Cold War thriller. . . . [Kanon] is a pro. . . . from the opening paragraph of The Berlin Exchange, with its matter-of-fact immediacy, you feel you’re in safe hands. . . . it’s superbly accomplished, from the Swiss watch plot and crisp dialogue to an atmosphere so well realised it feels as if it is written in black-and-white film. . . . Bold disguises, car chases and handbrake-turn twists wind inexorably to a climax at the border that shows that Kanon can do not just the talk, but also the tensest of spotlit walks. Expect this to exchange the page for the screen, but before then let yourself enjoy a modern master at work." The Times (UK)

"Joseph Kanon is, for my money, the best spy writer working today, an author of rare gifts as a stylist, plotter and creator of characters. He is also the greatest writer ever of historical espionage fiction. . . . He is absolutely worth his place in the pantheon of the greats." Tim Shipman, Spybrary

"Thoroughly absorbing, a thoughtful and subtle evocation of a place and era, with occasional invigorating bursts of violence. . . . when [Kanon's] at his best you get the rare sense of a writer whose style, plot and characters have been perfectly aligned to convey his vision of the world." Sunday Telegraph (UK)

“Kanon [is] probably the most accomplished spy novelist working today.” The Sunday Times (UK)

"[A] riveting tale of a spy forced to go back into the cold as a way of reclaiming his life. . . . Genuine suspense, including an exciting variation on the border-crossing theme, combine beautifully with moving psychological drama." Booklist (starred review)

"A novel that gives paranoia a new name, Kanon's latest in a brilliant collection—including Leaving Berlin (2014) and Istanbul Passage (2012)—may be his most tightly rendered. The suspense builds quietly, almost stealthily, before tightening its grip. Another supersophisticated spy thriller from a ranking master." Kirkus (starred review)

"Kanon balances a convincing portrayal of spycraft with fleshed-out characters, while vividly depicting the impact of secret lives on the loved ones of those engaged in espionage." Publishers Weekly