Author(s): John Lawton
Crime Fiction | No Category
Having shot someone in what he believed was self-defence in the chaos of 1963 Berlin, Wilderness finds himself locked up with little chance of escape. But an official pardon through his father-in-law Burne-Jones, a senior agent at MI6, means he is free to go - although forever in Burne-Jones's service. His newest operation will take him back to Berlin, which is now the dividing line between the West and the Soviets. A backstory of innocence and intrigue unravels, one in which Wilderness is in and out of Berlin and Vienna like a jack-in-the-box. When the Russians started building the Berlin wall in 1961, two 'Unfortunate Englishmen' were trapped on opposite sides. Geoffrey Masefield in the Lubyanka, and Bernard Alleyn (alias KGB Captain Leonid Liubimov) in Wormwood Scrubs. In 1965 there is a new plan. To exchange the prisoners, a swap upon Berlin's bridge of spies. But, as ever, Joe has something on the side, just to make it interesting, just to make it profitable. The Unfortunate Englishman is a thrilling tale of Khrushchev, Kennedy, a spy exchange...and 10,000 bottles of fine Bordeaux. What can possibly go wrong?
The second book in the new series featuring Joe Wilderness, a portrait of 1960s Berlin and Krushchev's Moscow, centering around the exchange of two spies - a Russian working for the KGB, and an unfortunate Englishman.
All these adventures arrive gift-wrapped in writing variously rich, inventive, surprising, informed, bawdy, cynical, heartbreaking and hilarious. However much you know about postwar Berlin, Lawton will take you deeper into its people, conflicts and courage... spy fiction at its best. Washington Post Lawton's gift for memorable atmosphere and characters, intelligent plotting and wry prose put him solidly at the top of anyone's A-list of contemporary spy novelists. Seattle Times Both books are meticulously researched, tautly plotted, historical thrillers in the moUld of World War II and Cold War fiction by novelists like Alan Furst, Phillip Kerr, Eric Ambler, David Downing and Joseph Kanan. Wall Street Journal on THE UNFORTUNATE ENGLISHMAN and THEN WE TAKE BERLIN Intricate plotting, colourful characters, and a brilliant prose style put Lawton in the front rank of historical thriller writers. Publishers Weekly A sublimely elegant historical novelist as addictive as crack but overlooked by too many readers for too long. Daily Telegraph on A LILY OF THE FIELD Lawton's up there with Philip Kerr and Alan Furst. Yes, he's that good. The Sun on THEN WE TAKE BERLIN While Lawton's previous novels were distinguished by their precise and elegant prose, Then We Take Berlin offers, courtesy of its Cockney protagonist, a cruder but equally effective vernacular style underpinned by mordant black humour. Irish Times on THEN WE TAKE BERLIN Lawton builds a wonderfully convincing picture...writing with remarkable authority... as usual with Lawton's books, it's rather more than the sum of its parts. Spectator on THEN WE TAKE BERLIN
John Lawton worked for Channel 4 for many years, and, among many others, produced Harold Pinter's 'O Superman', the least-watched most-argued-over programme of 90s. He has written seven novels in his Troy series, two Joe Wilderness novels, the standalone Sweet Sunday, a couple of short stories and the occasional essay. He writes very slowly and almost entirely on the hoof in the USA or Italy, but professes to be a resident of a tiny village in the Derbyshire Peak District. He admires the work of Barbara Gowdy, TC Boyle, Oliver Bleeck, Franz Schubert and Clara Schumann - and is passionate about the playing of Maria Joao Pires. He has no known hobbies, belongs to no organisations and hates being photographed.