Wall Games

Michael Dobbs, Author
Michael Dobbs, Author HarperCollins Publishers $19.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-017910-6
Reviewed on: 04/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
In an initially intriguing but eventually humdrum novel, the British author of House of Cards here posits an alternative solution to the problem of a divided Germany. In this scenario, the leaders of the U.S. and the Soviet Union fail to agree on the reunification of Germany and the razing of the Berlin Wall. The citizens of West Berlin, their anger stoked by political leader Edward Schumacher, erupt into dissension and violence. Into this caldron of hate and frustration comes American CIA agent Harry Benjamin, son of a Jewish WW II refugee, to assume his duties as a low-level operative at the U . S . mission in West Berlin. Benjamin soon encounters Schumacher, whom he finds odious, and the latter's beautiful wife, Katherine, who survived a tragic 1970 flight over the Wall in which her first husband and infant son were killed. Benjamin and Katherine fall in love, their emotions described by Dobbs in cloying language. Benjamin, who has suspicions regarding the genesis of the incendiary rallies and marches, cannot resist private sleuthing, which, though productive, remains unappreciated by the CIA. While the narrative is enhanced by Dobbs's convincing familiarity with West Berlin and its neighborhoods, his dogged prose and prosaic plot limit the novel's dramatic impact. $35,000 ad/promo; author tour. (Jan.)