Lead Review (Winter Work)
- Book: Winter Work
- Location: Berlin
- Author: Dan Fesperman
Operation Rosenholz is at the heart of this thriller, a real operation that is still to this day cloaked in secrecy, which leaves a lot of room for an inventive story to be built around it. It centred on the secret acquisition of the identities of more than a 1000 foreign HVA (Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung) agents, recruited by the Stasi. The identities were contained in three different files and if you could align all three, you could establish the identity.
It is 1990, the year after the Berlin Wall came down and the machinations of the Stasi agents are only just coming into the public domain. The novel opens as the body of a Stasi officer is discovered outside Berlin and his colleague, Emil Grimm, starts to trawl information that both East and West desire. The two have a history together.
Winter Work is the slow burn story of espionage: the meetings (often clandestine) the people, real life events and the intelligence work conducted by all manner of people, stealthily beavering away. Bonn, the then capital city of Germany, wanted to prosecute the East German spymasters who had led them a merry dance during the years of division. Shortly after the Wall came down, the Stasi agents had to decide how they would manage their future lives, because virtually everything they knew had fallen around their ears.
Winter Work is atmospheric of time and place and if you have been to Normannenstrasse in Berlin, the Stasi headquarters (now a museum), this book will add another perspective to a very bleak history of persecution and torture that was going on whilst Germany was divided.
A very good and solid spy thriller.