Synopses & Reviews
Joe Wilderness is a World War II orphan, a condition that he thinks excuses him from common morality. Cat burglar, card sharp, and Cockney "wide boy," the last thing he wants is to get drafted. But in 1946 he finds himself in the Royal Air Force, facing a stretch in military prison... when along comes Lt Colonel Burne-Jones to tell him MI6 has better use for his talents.
Posted to occupied Berlin, interrogating ex-Nazis, and burgling the odd apartment for MI6, Wilderness finds himself with time on his hands and the devil making work. He falls in with Frank, a US Army captain, with Eddie, a British artilleryman and with Yuri, a major in the NKVD and together they lift the black market scam to a new level. Coffee never tasted so sweet. And he falls for Nell Breakheart, a German girl who has witnessed the worst that Germany could do and is driven by all the scruples that Wilderness lacks.
Fifteen years later, June 1963. Wilderness is free-lance and down on his luck. A gumshoe scraping by on divorce cases. Frank is a big shot on Madison Avenue, cooking up one last Berlin scam... for which he needs Wilderness once more. Only now they're not smuggling coffee, they're smuggling people. And Nell? Nell is on the staff of West Berlin's mayor Willy Brandt, planning for the state visit of the most powerful man in the world: "Ich bin ein Berliner!"
Then We Take Berlin is a gripping, meticulously researched and richly detailed historical thriller a moving story of espionage and war, and people caught up in the most tumultuous events of the twenty-first century.
"Lawton captures both the immediate postwar and midcentury landscapes perfectly, stirring elements of Graham Greene, John le Carré, and the great Ross Thomas' too-little-known McCorkle and Padillo novels into a superbly well-built Cold War cocktailbracing, deliriously delicious, but carrying the slightly bitter aftertaste of dreams gone bad."Booklist
Lawton kicks off a crafty new series of spy novels centered on Joe Wilderness, a former British airman sent to Berlin after WWII to find former Nazis. From Kennedy's 1963 Berlin visit to the nitty gritty of the divided city's black market, this thriller is chock full of early Cold War history and rich fictional characters.”Publishers Weekly Fall 2013 Books Preview: The Seasons Big Books
This intelligent first in a new series from Lawton (A Lily of the Field and six other Inspector Troy thrillers) opens on the eve of President Kennedys 1963 Berlin visit, but the real meat lies in the compelling backstory of John Wilford Holderness, an East London Cockney who joins the RAF in 1946. . . . A wonderfully written and generally wise book that will thrill readers with an interest in WWII and the early Cold War era.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Praise for Lily of the Field:
"An unbearably tense account of two musicians whose lives and careers are shattered in the aftermath of the Anschluss . . . Technically dazzling. Lawton keeps his historical perspective on the war while introducing new characters and adding layers of political subtext to the plot."The New York Times
"Lawton has always pushed the boundaries of the series crime novel, edging ever closer to broad-canvas historical fiction, but this time he has leaped the fence altogether. Like Dennis Lehane in The Given Day, Lawton introduces multiple characters and stories in a sweeping tale that comes together at a particular historical moment, but unlike Lehane, he does all that without abandoning his series hero or the continuity established in the previous volumes . . . A truly multitextured tale."Booklist (Starred Review)
Another complex and compellingly readable historic thriller from Lawton, full of profound questions and memorable characters.”Kirkus Reviews
If you love mystery and history, run out and pick up a book by Lawton, author of the superb Inspector Troy novels.”The Seattle Times
If the previous six installments in John Lawton's Inspector Troy series haven't made the point adequately, the seventh, A Lily of the Field, makes it again, and solidly: Lawton's thrillers provide a vivid, moving and wonderfully absorbing way to experience life in London and on the Continent before, during and after World War II.”The Washington Post
John Lawton finds himself in the same boat as the late Patrick OBriana sublimely elegant historical novelist as addictive as crack but overlooked by too many readers for too long. Like OBrian, he inhabits his periods 20th-century tipping points witnessed by the rich and richly ambivalent sleuth Troywith an ownership that leaves most history-bothering authors looking like day-trippers.”Daily Telegraph
Lawton writes with authority. His characters convince, and so does their world. Admirable, ambitious and haunting, this is the sort of thriller that defies categorisation. I look forward with enthusiasm to the next one.”Spectator
John Lawtons books contain such a wealth of period detail, character description and background information that they are lifted out of any category. Every word is enriched by the authors sophistication and irreverent intelligence, by his meticulous research and his wit.”Literary Review
Lawtons Troy books are less detective stories or intelligence thrillers than novels which include both murders and spiesnovels as much about how people and societies grow and change as about the complex messes that Troy finds himself tidying up for his adopted country.”Independent
Lawton handles the chronology with exemplary ease and intelligence.”Guardian
About the Author
John Lawton is the author of ten novels, including Second Violin, Flesh Wounds, and Bluffing Mr. Churchill. His thriller Black Out won a WH Smith Fresh Talent Award, A Little White Death was named a New York Times notable book, and his latest novel A Lily of the Field was named one of the best thrillers of the year by Marilyn Stasio of The New York Times. At the moment he lives in Derbyshire, England, but can often be found (or lost) elsewhere.