Author: Joseph Kanon
Published: 2015, Atria Books, ISBN 978-1476704647
Lexile Measure: Not available
Leaving Berlin is a spy novel set in post-war Berlin, a Berlin still reeling from the war’s loss of life, independence, and identity. While three countries, Germany, the United States, and the Soviet Union struggle for the upper hand, Alex Meier, an author returned from a long exile in the United States, gets caught in the middle.
This is a mature spy thriller populated by tough talking, hard-drinking adult characters. Their language fits them.
Drug and Alcohol Use:
Adults smoke and drink regularly, sometimes excessively. Occurrences are too numerous to mention.
Violence and Crime:
There are numerous murders. See, for example, pp. 48-50 when an American is murdered and Alex shoots his assailant in the head. Also, as Alex and other characters recall the war, they reference rape and other atrocities. A character, Irene, describes her rape by the Russians as well as her abortion of the resulting baby on pp. 93-94. See also, pp. 26-27, 38, 41,117. Note, however, that there are numerous references to violence in all forms, and they are not all mentioned here.
Although not the focus of the book, some characters have sex. Further, Alex’s sexual and romantic relationship with Irene is a continuing theme. On pp. 20-21, he recalls their “summer of sex” in semi-steamy detail. On p. 76, he recalls it again in detail. When they are discovered by Irene’s current lover, he says, on p. 193, “I never had to rape you...A few cigarettes, some ham - that’s all it took for you to open your legs. Not rape.” Alex and the jilted lover fight, and Alex murders him and covers it up.
The book references gambling on p. 23. The book also references the fact that Irene’s ex-husband was gay. It also references whores and prostitution.