Excerpt from Then We Take Berlin by John Lawton, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Then We Take Berlin

by John Lawton

Then We Take Berlin
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2013, 400 pages
    Nov 2014, 432 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

It was tempting to touch. The kind of thing that would get him thrown out of an art gallery, but this wasn't an art gallery, this was . . . whatever it was . . . Frank's office selling whatever it was Frank sold.

He ran the index and big fingers of his right hand along a spinal cord of red, a raised weal that ran almost the length of the painting.

"Tactile, isn't it?"

A very pretty young woman, in a starched white blouse and tight, grey skirt. He hadn't noticed her emerge from the inner office.

"Yes," he said. "You can almost feel the energy he put into it, as though the muscle was kind of locked into the gesture and then into paint." He knew he sounded a bit of a wanker, saying this, but sounding like a wanker really depended on who was listening.

She stood next to him now, blonde, a foot shorter than he was, looking up at the painting, while he looked at eye level.

"Never thought of it quite that way, but then I've never dared to touch. The temptation to pick at it like a scab would be too much. I might get fired. You won't. I'm Frank's secretary, by the way, Dorothy Shearer. And I'm here with an apology."


Wilderness looked directly at her for the first time, first impressions well confirmed. This one was a looker.

"I'm sorry?"

"Happens a lot with Frank. Never a deal going down, always a dozen deals going down. Now tell me he's had to nip out to a meeting and won't be back today."

"You've know Frank a long time, I take it?"

"Since Berlin. Since 1947."

"Yes, he's gone out to a meeting. He's asked that, Greg—that's your chauffeur—take you to the Gramercy. Frank will call you as soon as he's free."

Greg hefted the suitcase.

"What exactly is it Carver, Sharma, and Dunn do?" Wilderness asked. "Frank didn't tell you?" Dorothy Shearer replied. "I'm surprised. We're an advertising agency. You've just stepped into dreamland Mr. Holderness." Going back to street level, Wilderness thought that it was probably where Frank was always going to end up. What better career for an excon- man than advertising? A profession dedicated to convincing you that shit is toothpaste. What kind of shit would Frank be trying to sell him now?

It was not yet six, a light spring evening. Down Park Avenue, around the helter-skelter that circumvented Grand Central, and on 42nd Street Wilderness asked Greg, "Would you pull over? I think I want to walk a while. I've had eight hours of sitting down."

Greg parked the Cadillac, swung around in the seat.

"I could take your bag to the hotel and you could walk from here, if you like."

"What are the chances of me getting lost?"

Greg pointed down Lexington.

"About zero. Just stay on Lex till it ends. Twenty blocks, not even twenty minutes."

"I can't miss it?"

"You can't."

He found himself across the street from the Chrysler, looking up as it tapered away to infinity, at a jutting silver eagle that seemed to be a mile in the sky.

He stood on the sidewalk of a new world. Hands in pockets, head back. Whatever he did next, wherever he went next, his first step would take him into dreamland.

Then We Take Berlin © 2013 by John Lawton; used with the permission of the publisher, Grove/Atlantic, Inc.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
  • Book Jacket
    by Tom Jackson
    Growing up in Mumbai in the '70s, I still remember herbs kept fresh in small glasses of water, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Next
    by Stephanie Gangi

    Fast-paced, wickedly observant, and haunting in the best sense of the word.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    News of the World
    by Paulette Jiles

    Exquisitely rendered and morally complex--a brilliant work of historical fiction.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Cruel Beautiful World
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A fast moving page-turner about the naiveté of youth and the malignity of power.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.