The Spring of Kasper Meier (2014)
Set in Berlin in 1946, The Spring of Kasper Meier follows the friendship that develops between Kasper Meier, a black-market trader, and Eva Hirsch, the young woman who is blackmailing him. As soldiers in Berlin begin to be killed in mysterious circumstances, both Kasper and Eva’s troubled pasts threaten to reveal themselves, and their fragile lives begin to spiral out of control.
The Spring of Kasper Meier was selected for the Waterstone’s Book Club, WHSmith Fresh Talent and the BBC Radio 2 Book Club. It was longlisted for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award and shortlisted for The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award. It won the 2015 Betty Trask Prize for an outstanding debut novel by a writer under 35 and the HWA Debut Crown 2015 for the best historical fiction debut of the year.
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Praise for The Spring of Kasper Meier:
Beguiling, unsettling, and wonderfully atmospheric. A dark expedition across a nightmarish landscape of physical and emotional damage and moral decay. (Sarah Waters)
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, The Scotsman)
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)
Ben Fergusson's The Spring of Kasper Meier is a truly outstanding work of fiction that will, I hope enter into the canon of English literature. It takes the known tragedies of the Second World War and extends them into what was, for most of the judges, an unknown arena: Berlin in the immediate aftermath of war, when the city was in ruins and the rubble gangs foraged for survival. The reality of it, the horror, was visceral and yet told with an immense and compassionate beauty. It's a masterpiece. To have written it as a first novel is an exceptional achievement. (Manda Scott)
Fergusson has already won two awards for this gripping and atmospheric debut, a thriller set amid the rubble of a defeated Berlin in 1945...What follows is original and highly accomplished. (Sunday Times)
A superbly atmospheric novel with a thrilling suspenseful storyline running through it. Amid the rubble of post-war Berlin, characters scrabble to survive and to rebuild shattered lives. Damage is on view everywhere – devastated buildings, people damaged physically, psychologically and emotionally, legal and social structures in ruins . . . Ben Fergusson's grittily evocative novel, historically knowledgeable and piercing in its scrutiny of morally ambiguous characters, political murkiness and a world quivering with suspicion and jeopardy, impressively recalls Graham Greene's The Third Man. (Peter Kemp)
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)
A formidable first novel – I loved it. (Tania Findlay, The Sun)
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)
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)
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)
If reviews are any guide to the quality of crime novels (and one fervently hopes they are) then Ben Fergusson must have been pleased about the notices that his novel The Spring of Kasper Meier received; notices that marked him out as a writer of genuine accomplishment. (Good Book Guide)
A moody-blue, grimly atmospheric novel exploring amorality and survival in a frightening, unsettling, post-war city. (Michèle Roberts)
A hauntingly evocative tale of post-war Berlin and the heartbreak and mysteries war leaves in its wake. (Mike Gayle)