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Safe Houses

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3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,167 ratings  ·  205 reviews
In a gripping new thriller from an award-winning author, a young woman uncovers dark truths about CIA operations in post-war Berlin, which will have consequences that reach across decades and continents into the present day.

West Berlin, October 1979. Helen Abell is a young American, employed by the CIA to oversee a number of safe houses. She arrives in Berlin, expecting ex
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Hardcover
Published December 2018 by Head of Zeus (first published July 11th 2006)
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3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,167 ratings  ·  205 reviews


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Katie B
3.5 stars

I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed this book given I don't typically read very many CIA based thrillers. Now I can't say how realistic it was but it definitely held my interest from start to finish. The action goes back and forth between 1970s Berlin with Helen Abell who oversees the safe houses for CIA agents and 2014 when she along with her husband are murdered on their farm in Maryland and their daughter is desperate for answers.

What I found fascinating was given the time p
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Amanda
Sep 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This is my first espionage thriller story that I’ve read. I was gripped by it but found it slightly too long and I did get confused with all the agent names and code names!!

Set in 2 timelines, Berlin in 1979 where Helen looks after the safe houses. She finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time when she overhears a conversation that will put her life in danger.

In 2014 Helen and her husband are murdered, her daughter Anna strives to find out what her mother had been involved in all those
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Cindy Burnett
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Safe Houses is an enjoyable dual timeline story that delves into the CIA’s operations in Berlin during the later years of the Cold War. In 1979, Helen Abell oversees the safe houses that the CIA maintains in Berlin. One night she accidentally overhears a strange conversation in one of the houses and then subsequently stumbles into another dangerous encounter. Abell decides to expose those responsible which leads to a decades long vendetta that has severe consequences in 2014 when a son is arrest ...more
Mark
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Hey, I think I said in my last review when I mentioned I was reading this next that I chose it as presumed it was a psychological thriller and liked the cover.....well it wasn’t!
Safe House is about safe houses back in 1979 Berlin and a CIA spy working there, Helen, who is in charge of 4 of these houses....she inadvertently witnesses 2 things in one of the houses which she cannot ‘unsee’ and her integrity then catches up with her in 2014 when her and her husband are shot dead by their son!....ent
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Amanda
Sep 23, 2018 rated it liked it
This is my first espionage thriller story that I’ve read. I was gripped by it but found it slightly too long and I did get confused with all the agent names and code names!!

Set in 2 timelines, Berlin in 1979 where Helen looks after the safe houses. She finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time when she overhears a conversation that will put her life in danger.

In 2014 Helen and her husband are murdered, her daughter Anna strives to find out what her mother had been involved in all those
...more
Amy
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physical-arcs
As much as I love thrillers the sub genre of espionage thrillers is not one that I read very often, but the premise of Safe Houses captured my attention immediately. I’m a sucker for old mysteries colliding with current happenings and the two timelines here ended up coming together in a powerful and intense way.

This begins in 1979 in Berlin and follows Helen, a woman who organizes safe houses. What I found most interesting about this portion was the portrayal of powerful men during this era and
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Lou
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm a big fan of thrillers based around espionage, and this is a fantastic example. With its dual timeline and tastefully drawn main characters, this is a novel full of tension and intrigue. The prose flows effortlessly from one page to the next and makes it very easy to get lost in the story, and before you know it it's over. It explores themes from the Cold War past but also features issues prevalent within today's modern society. The contrast between light and dark, bad and good is expertly m ...more
Gram
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
A gripping thriller which begins in late 1970s Berlin, where a young female CIA officer, Helen Abell, is responsible for managing the CIA's four safe houses in the city. One evening as she checks out one of the apartments, she is intrigued to overhear two men talking in code in the room below. These men were not authorised to use this safe house and Helen wonders who they are and exactly what they're talking about. Later that night, in the same building, she witnesses a sexual assault being comm ...more
Jill Mackin
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good story. Not the best, but enjoyable.
Steven Z.
Jun 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One night along the Cuban coast that adjoins the United States naval base at Guantanamo a body washes ashore. The body that of an American serviceman is found by a Cuban police officer on patrol. The officer rushes down the hill to chase away an iguana, recognizes that the body he has located is American and realizes how important his find is. So begins Dan Fesperman’s THE PRISONER OF GUANTANAMO, a book that will capture the reader’s attention immediately and maintain interest as the plot contin ...more
Janelle • She Reads with Cats
Thank you so much Knopf for providing my free copy of SAFE HOUSES by Dan Fesperman - all opinions are my own.

This espionage thriller is told in dual timelines, alternating between 1979 and 2014. It starts off in postwar Berlin, where Helen Abell oversees safe houses for the CIA Network. One night she enters one of the houses and inadvertently stumbles across something horrible and has the tapes to prove it. Fast forward thirty five years to 2014 where there is an arrest for a double murder. Hele
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Joanna Park
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fantastic spy thriller that I really enjoyed.  The story is told in two parts one based in cold war Berlin and one in 2014.  The Cold War has always held a lot of intrigue for me, not least because my dad was posted to Germany when the wall was still present.  The tension is created naturally in this timeline as the there is a general feeling of mistrust and fear amoung the residents.

My favourite character was Helen who is the only women in an all male team.  She’s struggling to do he
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Dave
Safe Houses is a terrific espionage thriller that is part espionage story from a divided Cold War Berlin in 1979 where everyone is on edge, isolated, nervous, ready for action, and a more modern-day murder mystery. Fesperman does an excellent job of tying together these two threads and the shadowy characters and lethal black ops agents at work. The focus is on what powerful people can get away with, particularly with vulnerable female agents who have nowhere to turn to. And what gets swept under ...more
Gare Billings
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
SAFE HOUSES by Dan Fesperman is a thrilling espionage mystery novel that alternates between 1979 Berline and present time Maryland. Going into this one, I knew I was in for something menacing and unlike anything I've ever read. I was 100% correct. As this was my first novel that kind of dipped its toes in the whole spy/espionage genre, I was intrigued and heavily surprised with how Fesperman was able to not only transport me into such unfamiliar territory, but also guide me so efficiently along ...more
Aisha
Mar 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: READ
Wow this was a very good book. At times I feared for Rever Falk's live and I think I got a little sea sick and prayed that he would make through a tropical storm.
First time reading from this author and I must admit it will not be my last.

It exposes a lot of corruption in our government and thanks for the Freedom Act. But so much scandal goes on day-to-day that civilians are not privy to know, sometimes its a good thing then other times it may not be as good. But my heart goes out to those famil
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Linda Zagon
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Safe Houses” by Dan Fesperman is a captivating, intense and intriguing novel. The Genres for this novel are Mystery, Suspense, Thriller and Fiction. The timelines for the story starts is West Berlin in 1974, and through different narration, continues to the present. The story takes place in many countries.

The author describes the characters as complicated and conflicted. Some are courageous, and some are calculating. There is a trace of a theme of good and evil. There is corruption, betrayals,
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Helga Cohen
Jul 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thrillers, fiction
I heard the author speak about the book, Safe Houses on an NPR interview and knew I had to read it. It was an intriguing espionage thriller that is told in dual time periods, alternating between Cold War Berlin in 1979 and a modern-day 2014 murder mystery.

Helen Abell oversees the safe houses that are maintained by the CIA in Berlin. While doing an inspection one night, she accidentally overhears a strange coded conversation in one of the houses and a dangerous encounter at a later time. She att
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Jessica
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: blog-tours
Full review to follow on tour date - 7/2
Patty Shlonsky
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


I decided it was time to take a break from the novels I usually read, focused on life’s hard questions, deep introspection and angst. I felt like it was time to lighten up, so I tackled Dan Fesperman’s 400 page “Safe Houses”. And i am glad i did!

Safe Houses is a story of CIA intrigue, with a feminist twist. Helen Abell is a 23 year old low level CIA operative stationed in Berlin in 1979. Her responsibility is to maintain a network of safe houses in Berlin, where CIA agents can meet with operativ
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Stephanie
I love fiction that includes some political intrigue/espionage, and if it is a mystery/thriller that’s all the better! Cold War timeframe is great if done well (I loved Jake Tapper’s Hellfire Club, for example). So Dan Fesperman’s Safe Houses seemed right up my alley, especially as it was praised by Lee Child as being "One of the great espionage novels of our time," so I was happy to write an honest review in exchange for a copy of this book from Knopf Doubleday and NetGalley.

TBH, at first I had
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Michael Martz
Dan Fesperman can write, I'll certainly give him that. His 'Safe Houses' is one of my recent favorites, with both fine writing and a great plot. 'The Prisoner of Guantanamo' is likewise well-crafted, but the plot, although interesting and quite tricky, is a bit muddled. It's one of those books where you struggle to figure out what's really going on as the main character is doing the same.

Falk, the lead character, is an ex-Marine working for the FBI as an interviewer of detainees at Gitmo back in
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AdiTurbo
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent spy novel with a timely #MeToo twist. Three women find themselves hunted by a mysterious man after one of them accidentally records a conversation she should never have heard, as well as interrupted an event of a sordid nature, and I don't want to disclose any other details so as not to ruin anyone's pleasure. The characters are strong and very resourceful women who help and support each other while dealing with the threats to their lives and freedom. The chapters move between the past ...more
Argum
I received a free copy of this book from Penguin First To Read.

Told in two parts, 1979 Berlin sees a woman working a mostly clerical CIA job struggling to break out of the box that her sex and her superiors attitude has placed her in. When she accidentally discovers two big secrets and has tapes to prove it, an adventure for her life begins. In the other part, we see the modern day aftermath of her death as her daughter works to figure out what happened and who her mother really was. A spy thri
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Benjamin baschinsky
2.5
Story really never got going, very little suspense. Allowing for the primary setting being Berlin in 1979.
Ed
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Original and entertaining espionage thriller!
Annie
Jun 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Helen Abell heard something she wasn’t supposed to hear at the beginning of Dan Fesperman’s Safe Houses. In fact, she hears two things she wasn’t supposed to hear. Also, she was taping the people speaking in one of the Berlin safe houses she monitors for the CIA. Even worse: some of the people who were saying things they shouldn’t know she has incriminating tapes. This is the set up for a thrilling mystery that spans almost four decades and two continents...

Read the rest of my review at A Bookis
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Tracy (The Pages In-Between)
Thank you to Abby and Knopf Books for inviting me on to this blog tour and providing me with a free book. All opinions are my own. 

I rate this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars.



I normally do not read a lot of spy/espionage thrillers, it's never been a type of book that caught my attention. But when Abby Endler brings a book to your attention, and invites you on to a Blog Tour, I don't care who you are, you do it. And because of that, I feel like I got to read and enjoy a book I normally never would pick
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Jack
Jun 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspense
Likeable characters, great plot twists.
Judith Baller-Fabian
One of his best. It was a look into Guantanamo like nobody else has given. I really like this author and have read most of his books. I'm delighted to have found one I haven't read, yet.
Anita Boeira
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
I’m a sucker for spy stories, especially women spies. There are two main storylines in this book, and Helen’s was by far the most intriguing for me. Couldn’t put it down.
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Dan Fesperman’s travels as a writer have taken him to thirty countries and three war zones. Lie in the Dark won the Crime Writers’ Association of Britain’s John Creasey Memorial Dagger Award for best first crime novel, The Small Boat of Great Sorrows won their Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for best thriller, and The Prisoner of Guantánamo won the Dashiell Hammett Award from the International Asso ...more
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