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THE WALL by John Marks


by John Marks

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 1998
ISBN: 1-57322-122-8
Publisher: Riverhead

A debut thriller by U.S. News journalist (and former Berlin bureau chief) Marks, who takes us on a wild-goose chase through Eastern Europe during Communism’s last days. Most East Germans may have figured out by 1989 that Honecker’s jig was up, but Western observers—led by the intelligence agencies—remained blissfully unprepared for the storm that broke out that particular November. Army Intelligence officer Nester Cates, stationed in West Berlin, was more surprised than most: Taken aback when the Hungarians open their borders to the West, he is positively stupefied when the East Germans follow suit. It is hard for Cates to share in the general elation, you see, since his friend and fellow officer Stuart Glemmik has gone AWOL just hours before a freak accident(smelling of sabotage)kills a civilian technician at Cates’s post. Glemmik, by virtue of his disappearance, becomes the prime suspect, and Cates is given 24 hours to find him, or face the charges himself. How do you scare up an American who disappears into East Berlin on the precise day that all of East Berlin has gone West? Through your contacts, of course—and if you’re looking for Stuart Glemmik, then try his German girlfriend Uta Silk and his brother Douglas conveniently in town on Stuart’s invitation. Since they are as mystified as Cates by Stuart’s disappearance, the three team up to launch the most hopeless manhunt since Stanley went after Livingstone. Like all good thrillers, this one doesn’t stay in one place very long, and the investigation also gets played out against the elections in Prague and the assassinations in Bucharest. At the end, of course, Cates finds what everyone else discovered at the close of 1989: a new world. Unremarkable as a story, but with good touches of local color. Cold War buffs and glÑsnost groupies will go for it; others may feel left out in the cold.