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The Spring of Kasper Meier by Ben Fergusson

The Spring of Kasper Meier

Historical Fiction   All Shortlists and Winners   Thriller / Suspense   Literary Fiction   Reading Groups   
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Winner of the Historical Writers' Association 2015 Debut Crown Award For New Historical Fiction.

Winner of the Betty Trask Award 2015.

Shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award 2015.

A highly descriptive literary thriller of post-war Berlin which brilliantly illustrates the terrible aftermath of war. People live hand-to-mouth like rats scavenging for food and essentials in a constant state of fear. You can feel the atmosphere dripping off the pages. Kasper Meier, a 52-year old gay man fighting to look after his elderly father, is sucked into a strange request, to find a British airman for reasons he knows not. He takes up the challenge for Eva, or maybe her controller, we’re not sure, it matters not. The whole plot is really of little significance compared to the evocative description of place and period. A highly impressive debut.

If you like Ben Fergusson you might also like to read books by Laurent Binet, Hans Fallada and William Boyd.

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. 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. The novel is set in Berlin in 1946, with the city destroyed and the local population struggling to survive by whatever clandestine means are possible. Kasper Meier trades on the black market, putting food on the table for himself and his ageing father. But then a young woman arrives at his door seeking the whereabouts of a British pilot. Saying yes to this assignment is to put Kaspar in considerable danger.
~ Barry Forshaw

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading Reader Review Panel members were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

  • Gavin Dimmock - 'A thrilling tale of danger, blackmail and secrets set in post war Berlin. A must read novel by a debut author.'   Read full review>
  • Kate Thacker - 'A powerful read!! I thoroughly enjoyed it...It had me gripped and I’ll be looking out for more books like that and this author.'   Read full review>
  • Susan Walsh - 'Totally absorbing I couldn’t put it down.I absolutely loved this Book. It is simply the best that I’ve read in a while. 10/10 to Ben Fergusson.'  Read full review>
  • Alan Brown - 'There are many mystery fiction stories based in Berlin in the 1940s but this one is one of the most believable.' Read full review>
  • Sarah Harper - 'An uplifting story of human resilience and survival this is an evocative,  powerful and moving debut novel. Highly recommended.' Read full review>
  • Jane Brown - 'This is the debut novel for the author Ben Fergusson and is a wow for me, a great new author with fantastic potential. I can see this being in the top ten on publication.' Read full review>
  • Angie Rhodes - 'This is not my usual reading matter, it being set just after WW2, but I am so glad I did read it, as it's a gripping debut novel.'  Read full review>
  • Suzanne Marsh - 'The Spring Of Kasper Meier is a heartbreaking novel.'  Read full review>
  • Sue Burton - 'I did not enjoy it very much...and found the book very disjointed and frankly very depressing.' Read full review>
  • Edel Waugh - 'Grim and gritty with moments that will give you a lump in your throat, the effects of war even after it's over is written so well here, you almost feel you are there.'  Read full review>
  • Janet Gilliard - 'This is a debut novel...and it’s a cracker...I am now waiting eagerly for the next novel by this promising young author.'  Read full review>
  • Phylippa Smithson - 'Intriguing, very moody and I really felt it captured what I imagine it must have been like in the immediacy of Berlin after WW2 but...not sure I was convinced about the plot.'  Read full review>
  • Joanne Nuttie - 'What an interesting book! I've never read anything like this before and it was a challenge...'   Read full review>
  • Les Warriner - 'I found the plot compelling and was fascinated by the description of life in Berlin under the allied occupation.' Read full review>
  • Bethany Dimmock - 'Ben Fergusson is most definitely a promising author, with a clear knack for illuminating vivid scenes and memorable characters in the reader's mind.' Read full review>
  • Ian Harvey-Brown - 'If you want to know what Berlin was like in the immediate aftermath of the war, read this book. You can almost taste the dust in your mouth, smell the intrigue.' Read full review>

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The Spring of Kasper Meier by Ben Fergusson

Berlin, 1946. Everything is in short supply. Including the truth. The war is over, but Berlin is a desolate sea of rubble. There is a shortage of everything: food, clothing, tobacco. The local population is scrabbling to get by. Kasper Meier is one of these Germans, and his solution is to trade on the black market to feed himself and his elderly father. He can find anything that people need, for the right price. Even other people. When a young woman, Eva, arrives at Kasper's door seeking the whereabouts of a British pilot, he feels a reluctant sympathy for her but won't interfere in military affairs. But Eva is prepared for this. Kasper has secrets, she knows them, and she'll use them to get what she wants. As the threats against him mount, Kasper is drawn into a world of intrigue he could never have anticipated. Why is Eva so insistent that he find the pilot? Who is the shadowy Frau Beckmann and what is her hold over Eva? Under constant surveillance, Kasper navigates the dangerous streets and secrets of a city still reeling from the horrors of war and defeat. As a net of deceit, lies and betrayal falls around him, Kasper begins to understand that the seemingly random killings of members of the occupying forces are connected to his own situation. He must work out who is behind Eva's demands, and why - while at the same time trying to save himself, his father and Eva.


'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

'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

'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 Scotsman

'A formidable first novel - I loved it' -- Tania Findlay Sun

'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

'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

About the Author

Ben Fergusson

Ben Fergusson is a writer, editor and translator. Born in Southampton in 1980, he studied English Literature at Warwick University and Modern Languages at Bristol University, and has worked for ten years as an editor and publisher in the art world. His short fiction has appeared in publications in both the UK and the US and has won and been shortlisted for a range of prizes, including the 2010 Bridport Prize. From 2009-2010 he edited the literary journal Chroma and since 2013 has been the editor of the short story magazine Oval Short Fiction. Currently based in London, his first novel, The Spring of Kasper Meier, was written during a four-year period living and working in Berlin.

CLICK HERE to read our Ask the Author feature with Ben Fergusson.

Author photo © Charlie Hopkinson

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Book Info

Publication date

6th January 2015


Ben Fergusson

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Abacus an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group


400 pages


Historical Fiction
All Shortlists and Winners
Thriller / Suspense
Literary Fiction
Reading Groups

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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