BOOK REVIEW: The Berlin Letters by Katherine Reay


Title: The Berlin Letters
Author: Katherine Reay
Publication: March 5, 2024
Publisher: Harper Muse
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 364

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SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)

Near the end of the Cold War, a CIA code breaker discovers a symbol she recognizes from her childhood, which launches her across the world to the heart of Berlin just before the wall comes tumbling down. November 1989 —After finding a secret cache of letters with intelligence buried in the text, CIA cryptographer Luisa Voekler learns that not only is her father alive but he is languishing in an East German Stasi jail. After piecing together the letters with a series of articles her grandfather saved, Luisa seeks out journalists Bran Bishop and Daniel Rudd. They send her to the CIA, to Andrew Cademan—her boss. Luisa confronts Cademan and learns that nothing is a coincidence, but he will not help her free her father. So she takes matters into her own hands, empties her bank account, and flies to West Berlin. As the adrenaline wears off and she recognizes she has no idea how to proceed, Luisa is both relieved and surprised when a friend shows up with contacts and a rudimentary plan to sneak her across the wall. Alternating storylines between Luisa and her father, The Berlin Letters shows the tumultuous early days of the wall, bringing Berlin, the epicenter of the Cold War, to life while also sharing one family’s journey through secrets, lies, and division to love, freedom, and reconciliation.


**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

This winter I read (well listened) a book called The Portrait of Emily Price.  I absolutely loved it.  I loved the author’s writing style and how she can paint a picture in your mind that you can see.  So when I was approached by a publishing house asking if I would read her newest book that she has coming out, I was over the moon and answered with a hearty yes.  It did take me a bit to get to reading the book (my life is so busy right now) but when I started to read I am pretty sure I binged 68% in one sitting at work.  

Luisa is merely 4 years old when her world is turned upside down.  Sprouting up overnight is the Berlin Wall in the form of barbed wire, for the moment that is.  Every Sunday her mother would take her to her grandparent’s house for lunch, that is until that day. For one reason or another, I guess I am not still 100% on I suppose her mother tossed her over the barbed wire to her grandparents.  Her grandparents take her and eventually, a year or so later move to America to find a better life for themselves.  Luisa grows up and goes to college and eventually finds work at the CIA as a decoder.  One thing leads to another and she begins to find out about the life that she left behind.  This book was so well written.  It gave me a view of the war that I guess I have never read before.  I usually read books on the receiving end of the issues ie Jews, etc.  This book is from the point of a young German woman who is now a naturalized American and a German who used to write propaganda and now has the Stazi after him.  

I will admit that at times I was enjoying Luisa’s story so much that I honestly hated to leave her story and go to her father’s point of view.  It wasn’t enough to lower my star level because it doesn’t take anything away from the story if I am being honest, it would just throw off my groove a little bit.  The book is well researched I can tell.  The author took her time researching various codes that people would hide in letters.  I loved the character of Luisa, she seems scrappy I guess is the word I would use.  She is intelligent and knows what she wants and when she puts her mind to it she does it.  I am happy that the author managed to squeeze in some romance, because honestly sometimes a book isn’t complete unless the main character finds love in the process.  I was so happy that the father got the happy ending that he deserved.  I would definitely read more books by her, I have several on my Amazon Wish List to price watch. 

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