Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Arms Maker of Berlin,
Dan Fesperman
$38.99 - Hodder & Stoughton
Well The Bookman has done it ! The first adult novel read in eBook format on the Sony Readers kindly loaned to me by Kevin Chapman and his team at Hachette NZ.
First let me confess that I had never heard of author Dan Fesperman before but the following blurb in Hachette's July publication schedule made me decide I should correct that situation.
A ruthless arms billionaire and a disgraced history professor share a terrible secret.
Nat Turnbull is dragged abruptly from his quiet academic life when his former mentor,
Professor Gordon Wolfe, is arrested for stealing top secret archive documents dating back to the Second World War.
Coerced into examining the archives for the FBI, Nat finds intriguing references both to Wolfe’s activities in an Allied intelligence office in Switzerland during the war, and to a mysterious student resistance group in Berlin known as the White Rose. Following Wolfe’s cryptic clues to Europe, soon Nat is in a desperate race to unlock the truth, before it gets him killed.

When I was in the sixth form at Gisborne Boys High School our history master was Murray Sharp and one of our major history subjects was the Causes and Outcomes of World War Two. Sharp was a great teacher who revelled in this particular subject and I was fascinated. This was back in the late 50's and of course WW2 had only finished 12 years or so before. Our text book, can't recall the name but I remember it had a green cover (!!), was a UK publication and of course came with an Allied slant and without the benefit of decades of hindsight and research.

All of this came flooding back while reading The Arms Maker of Berlin and it captivated me
from the outset. About half the story is set in contemporary USA and Europe with the other half being set mainly in Germany and Switzerland in the years 1943-45. And this section is often seen from the German perspective, not only that, but from the view of Germans who were opposed to the Nazi regime.
It is wonderfully written and totally rivetting. Real people and real situations are used, one of the main characters for example is John Foster Dulles who was the American's main spy man in Switzerland during the war. It has clearly been wonderfull researched and I found the story reminiscent of John Le Carre with a touch of Ian Fleming thrown in. I warmly recomend it to all who like espionage thrillers and who-dunnits, it is a real page turner.
Here is a bit about the author from the last "page" of the eBook:
Dan Fesperman's travels as a writer have taken him to 30 countries and three war zones. Lie in the Dark won the Crime Writers Association of Britain's John Creasey Memorial Dagger Award for best first crime novel. The Small Boat of Great Sorrows won the association's Ian Fleing Steel Dagger Award for best thriller, and The Prisoner of Guantanamo won Noth America's Dashiell Hammett Award.
When I get back from my travels I will try and track down his earlier titles.

Some early comments on my experience reading via a Sony Book Reader:
Once I got used to using it the experience was much the same as reading a paper book except that because the screen is not backlit you do need to read it in very good light. My reading was done entirely on the plane and in our hotel room where ideal reading light was not always available.
When you turn the device on it automatically takes you back to the page you were reading when you turned it off.
The Reader is light, about the format of a thin paperback, and I have six titles stored on it. The basic model comes with the ability to load 350 titles although extra storage can be bought.
The battery life on the Reader is impressive. I read this title ver a period of five days and battery useage seems to have hardly moved.

Here at the resort hotel in Phuket most people lying around the pool seem to be readers with almost all titles I have been able to observe come from the best-seller thriller genre - authors noted include Michael Connelly, Ken Follett, Lee Child, Jeffrey Archer, David Baldacci and Clive Cussler and ,I am pleased to note ,two people reading Stieg Larsson.
I am now reading a "real" book, Inspector Singh Investigates: A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder. More about that when I have finished it.

1 comment:

"Reg" said...

Glad to hear Stieg is on the reading list in Phuket. My recommendation for you is John Burdett's Bangkok novels if you haven't read them yet. A whole nother slant on Thailand with Detective Jitpleecheep. Greetings from Albuquerque, where's it's hot but very dry.