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In West Berlin in 1989, eighteen-year-old Ralf has just left school and is living a final golden summer with his three best friends. They spend their days swimming, smoking and daydreaming about the future, oblivious to the storm gathering on the other side of the Berlin Wall.
But an unsettling discovery about his family and a meeting with the mysterious Oz shatters everything Ralf thought he knew about love and loyalty. And as old Cold War tensions begin to tear his life apart, he finds himself caught up in a web of deceit, forced to make impossible choices about his country, his family and his heart.
Author: Ben Fergusson
Trade Paperback, 384 Pages, Originally published 2019
Read and Reviewed by Graeme:
"This is the third book in Ben Fergusson’s ‘Berlin’ sequence of novels which kicked off with the very popular crime novel The Spring of Kasper Meier. The books are linked by their setting in the same Berlin apartment building. Like the previous books, An Honest Man is set at a fascinating time in Berlin’s history - in 1989 and the months leading up to the collapse of Communism in East Germany and the breaching of the Wall. Eighteen-year-old Ralf has just left school and plans to spend a final glorious summer with his girlfriend Maike and two best friends. But an encounter with Turkish German Oz, leads Ralf into a secretive sexual affair with him and unleashes many uncertainties - and not only regarding his sexuality. Oz has secrets, yet so does Ralf’s mother, a psychologist whose clients include some prominent military men. And then there is their musician neighbour, Tobias, who Oz suspects is working for the Stasi. In this hothouse atmosphere of paranoia and subterfuge, slowly the novel builds to a truly surprising twist as communist East Germany crumbles. This is a first class spy novel - intriguing and highly atmospheric - yet it is also a very moving love story. Readers who have enjoyed Tomasz Jedrowski’s acclaimed debut Swimming in the Dark should turn to this other love story set against the collapse of communism."
'A compelling story of love and betrayal in the divided Berlin of the 1980s.' Sunday Times Best Books of 2019
'A beautifully written, evocative literary thriller set in Berlin shortly before the fall of the Wall.' Financial Times Best Books of 2019
'A powerful and moving love story by a writer at the top of his game.' John Boyne