Blow a kiss, fire a gun.
Publisher: Abacus (Little, Brown)
First Published: 15th April 2014 in translation; 17th June 2015
Date Reviewed: 15th March 2016
In the year following the end of WWII, the rubble of ruined buildings sprawls across the streets of Berlin. Kasper, a black market trader, is not acquainted with any rubble women until one day he is stopped by one who wants him to find a pilot. She won’t say why but to Kasper it’s clear there’s some sort of underground factor to it.
The Spring Of Kasper Meier is a thriller that looks at a certain aspect of the aftermath of war. It’s categorised under the thriller genre, but doesn’t quite match it.
This is a novel wherein the vast majority of the book doesn’t do anything to recommend itself but the last 50 pages are excellent. It’s a case of the reader having no real idea as to what’s happening, and that’s not good here. There’s no suspense until those last pages start and it just feels like a lost chance. Nine out of ten times you don’t have a clue what’s happening or why you’re reading about a person and even if you manage to figure some of it out the raison d’etre will likely still evade you. It’s the lack of any clues that is the problem.
The writing doesn’t help. There’s a decided lack of commas which means clauses run together so you have to work out what the sentence is saying. Of facial expressions there are too many in each piece of dialogue – speaking then smiling then speaking then surprised then speaking and laughing, that sort of thing. All tell, no show.
The history’s good. That’s the one plus side of the telling – you get a good picture of the period. One of the themes is sexuality, in this case being gay in 40s Europe. It’s dealt with well – there’s commentary when needed but otherwise Fergusson just gets on with it. As the majority of the characters and certainly the main characters are German, there is more time spent on Kasper’s romantic history than, for example, the plight of the Jews. Women also get a look in, though mostly it’s in the form of Kasper’s friendship with Eva.
Like other recent writers of the occupation of Germany by the allied forces, Fergusson doesn’t shy from showing the realities of German life and the way that not all those in the allied forces were good. He shows the horror of it, reminding us that regular people faired the same way everywhere.
The Spring Of Kasper Meier, then, is a book of good history, but otherwise isn’t so great. If you’re able to figure out – or guess correctly – what’s happening early on, you may enjoy it more, but most will want to keep it on the to-be-read pile for a while longer.
I received this book at the Young Writer of the Year award blogger event.
June 17, 2016, 5:01 pm
Reading the first few sentences I had such high hopes for this but alas your review has put me off as whilst its great that the history is good I feel that because I’ve read so many books set at this time it is important that not only is the history good but the characters are as well.