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Reviewed by Steve Leshin for Readers' Favorite
Charlie Ebersole and Elizabeth Reid, the two main protagonists in Alan Cook’s East of the Wall, are called upon by CIA agent Ted Robinson to travel to East Germany in the summer of 1963 to find Liz’s missing cousin Fritz. His deceased father may have been in charge of a project that produced a weapon of mass destruction during World War II. It seems the two young financial analysts make a great team and Liz’s relationship with her cousin Fritz, who lives in East Germany, makes for a good cover to go there and find out what happened to him. Charlie and Liz agree to go as tourists. The reader is thrust into the dark and dangerous way of life inside the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in the midst of the Cold War. Our two amateur spies must use all their skills and keep their wits about them to survive as they face various obstacles in their quest and the possibility that they may never get out of East Germany.
In East of the Wall, Alan Cook does an excellent job of setting the tone and providing the historical background behind the story of Fritz and the secret project his father was involved in. The Soviets want to know what the secret project is, and they will question anybody to get it. What impressed me, though, was the characters Charlie and Liz meet while in the GDR. There is the young, beautiful tour guide Ida (pronounced Eeda), who is Charlie's love interest in the story. There is an unsavory character, Adolph, who runs a Gasthaus (hotel) in the little town of Zorbig, and who has a secret war background. Then there is the Stasi (the East German secret police), always watching, always lurking in the background. The sexual tension between some of the characters is palpable. The use of dialogue and the many observations from the characters enhance the action and raise it above the typical spy novel. A must-read for historical mystery and adventure fans.