An exhilarating spy thriller inspired by a true story about the precious secrets up for grabs just after the fall of the Berlin Wall—from the acclaimed author of The Cover Wife
“Fesperman accurately depicts the corrosive effect of life under a surveillance society, debasing both the watchers and the watched.... Most Cold War spy novels focus on the Manichaean ideological struggle between East and West; this one successfully explores a grayer era.” —The New York Times Book Review
On a chilly early morning walk on the wooded outskirts of Berlin, Emil Grimm finds the body of his neighbor, a fellow Stasi officer named Lothar, with a gunshot wound to the temple and a pistol in his right hand. Despite appearances, Emil suspects murder. A few months earlier he would have known just what to do, but now, as East Germany disintegrates, being a Stasi colonel is more of a liability than an asset. More troubling still is that Emil and Lothar were involved in a final clandestine mission, one that has clearly turned deadly. Now Emil must finish the job alone, on uncertain ground where old alliances seem to be shifting by the day.
Meanwhile, CIA agent Claire Saylor, sent to Berlin to assist an Agency mop-up action against their collapsing East German adversaries, has just received an upgrade to her assignment. She'll be the designated contact for a high-ranking foreign intelligence officer of the Stasi, although details are suspiciously sketchy. When her first rendezvous goes dangerously awry, she realizes the mission is far more delicate than she was led to believe.
With the rules of the game changing fast, and as their missions intersect, Emil and Claire find themselves on unlikely common ground, fighting for their lives against a powerful enemy hiding in the shadows.
About the Author
DAN FESPERMAN served as a foreign correspondent for the Baltimore Sun, based in Berlin. His coverage of the siege of Sarajevo led to his debut novel, Lie in the Dark, which won Britain's John Creasey Memorial Dagger Award for best first crime novel. Subsequent books have won the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for best thriller, the Dashiell Hammett Prize from the International Association of Crime Writers, the Barry Award for best thriller, and selection by USA Today as the year's best mystery/thriller novel. He lives in Baltimore.
BEST OF THE YEAR: Amazon's Best Mysteries and Thrillers of 2022 • Amazon Editor's Choice • Oprah Daily's Favorite Books of 2022
"This masterful historical thriller blends espionage, domestic drama, and murder. In 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall marked the final coda to the Cold War and ushered in massive geopolitical and social change. . . . This evocative murder mystery vividly captures what happened on the Eastern side of the wall on a political level—including how the cache of secrets ultimately found its way to the CIA—and a personal one, from the perspective of an unusual protagonist, a sympathetic East German spy with a complicated and messy home life." —Oprah Daily, "Our Favorite Books of 2022"
"Winter Work is a gripping, tightly plotted old-school spy novel. . . . Claire [Saylor] makes a welcome return from Fesperman's last book, The Cover Wife. . . . Berlin—'spying's most storied theme park'—is vividly rendered, as is a time of convulsive change and the hopes, anxieties, and machinations of those caught up in the chaos." —Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“[A] well-paced thriller. . . . Fesperman accurately depicts the corrosive effect of life under a surveillance society, debasing both the watchers and the watched. . . . Most Cold War spy novels focus on the Manichaean ideological struggle between East and West; this one successfully explores a grayer era.” —The New York Times Book Review
"Winter Work is Mr. Fesperman’s 13th novel of spycraft and international intrigue. Like its predecessors, it does not disappoint.” —The Wall Street Journal
"A well-crafted examination of truth, honor, and loyalty in a shifting world." —The Christian Science Monitor, "Ten Best Books of July"
"The story leads to an exciting conclusion—a thoroughly surprising spin on the typical spies-on-the-run finale—but it is the relationships among the principals that give the novel its depth andpower. Like Joseph Kanon in The Berlin Exchange, Fesperman builds his story around the inner lives of his characters, an approach that transforms typical espionage tropes into universal human drama." —Booklist *starred*
“[A] superb spy thriller. . . . The action builds to a deeply satisfying denouement. Cold War-era spy fiction doesn’t get much better than this.” —Publishers Weekly *starred*
“Dan Fesperman is one of my favorite thriller writers, and Winter Work is a brilliant addition to his magnificent oeuvre. Intelligently written and plotted, based on fact as gripping as any fiction and only improved by Fesperman's deft writing, Winter Work left me spellbound and hungry for another pass at his older books to relive these intense adventures.” —Mark Greaney, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Sierra Six
"Winter Work vividly captures those chaotic first months after the Berlin Wall came down, with East Germany in free fall and once feared Stasi officers running for cover—into the hands of their former enemies. An entertaining thriller about a society turned upside down." —Joseph Kanon, New York Times bestselling author of Istanbul Passage and The Good German
“Winter Work is just fantastic. With a meticulous eye for detail and a true feel for the unsettled tension of the times, Fesperman pulls the reader deep into the chilly world of an empire crashing with an utterly compelling story. Out-of-work Stasi officer Emil Grimm is one of the best characters I’ve read in years.” —Olen Steinhauer, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Tourist
Purchase books and ebooks online
Keep track of your purchase history
Be the first to know about new books and events from The Ivy