Monday, October 1, 2018

The Berlin Tunnel -- A Cold War Thriller by Roger L. Liles


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Thriller / Historical Fiction
Date Published: October 1, 2018
Publisher: Acorn Publishing

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During the Cold War, a tunnel was built by British MI-6 and the CIA to tap into a message cable in East Berlin with the hopes of intercepting and exploiting communications with Russia. The Berlin Tunnel is based on this historic event.

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 In the height of the Cold War, American Air Force Captain Robert Kerr finds himself in a divided Berlin awash with spies who move freely between the East and West. His task—build a TOP SECRET tunnel under the River Spree into East Berlin—tap into highly classified communications links between civilian and military leaders in Russia and the Warsaw Pact countries.

Love couldn’t have found him at a worse time.

Soon after he arrives, Robert falls for a German girl, Anna Fischer. Nasty East German Secret Police harass them both constantly, intent on determining what Robert and his work crew are doing in Berlin, but it’s Anna who gets caught in the crossfire.

 The wall is closed, trapping 19 million East Germans including Anna’s entire family behind the Iron Curtain. As the world holds its collective breath over the Berlin Crisis, Robert and Anna fight for their lives as they attempt to free her family.


Advance Praise

"Exceptional!  The settings and descriptions are vivid and real.  The author is a master of making the reader want to know what happens next.”

 Karen Black, Author of Code of Conduct


"This story was captivating.  A good history lesson as well as a good read.  You get out of one tension-filled event only to have another start almost immediately.”

USN Captain Terry Badger, Author of The Saga of HS-8



“The characters, scenes and dialogue were absolutely believable.  I felt like I was reading an autobiography, believed everything the writer said happened and was surprised when I found it was work of fiction. I enjoyed meeting Anna and Robert and loved seeing the East and West through their experiences—1960s Berlin was as much a character as they are.”

Ingrid Hoffmeister, English Artist and Writer



“I volunteered to be the Beta Readers of a historical novel; what I got was a page turning mystery, love story and spy thriller. The technical details of the building of the tunnel were easy to understand and the tension of the many problems they encounter was believable.  Pat yourself on the back.  You’ve done a great job.  I expected that I wouldn’t really be into the book, but intrigue grabbed me right after the prologue.”

Sarah Vosburgh, Award Winning Short Story Author



Prologue
Robert

April 14, 2010
My quest intensified after an internet search revealed that after fifty years, the code word LUMAR had been declassified. In the months that followed, I spent time each day on Google as I searched for additional information. 
My eleven-year-old grandson Jonathan recently helped me set up a Google Alert to automatically inform me when someone posted something new. My search terms included Berlin Tunnel, U.S. Air Force, and, of course, Project LUMAR. 
Following my regular routine, after lunch I checked my email account. Startled, I discovered my first alert. When I opened the URL and the subject document, a familiar page jumped out at me from my computer screen. Shocked, I pushed back my chair and sat frozen in place. I finally caught my breath, and shouted, “Well, I’ll be damned!” 
Anna rushed from her nearby potting studio, gasping, “Are you okay, leibchen?” 
“Come here! Come around so you can see what I’ve found!”
“I thought you were having another heart attack or something.”
“No! No!” I pointed. “Look! Look here! The construction plan I wrote in Berlin almost fifty years ago. It’s on the internet!”
She moved behind me, smoothed an errant tuft of my thinning gray hair into place. She put both hands on my shoulders, bending forward for a better view. 
I felt her stiffen. She moved her hands to my throat, pretending to choke me. “So is this what you’ve hidden from me all these years!” 
Knowing I’d opened an old wound, I turned to face her. “There was a reason I couldn’t tell you. An important reason.” 
 “What might that be?”
 “I signed a non-disclosure agreement with the American government.” I raised my hands in mock surrender. “I could have gone to prison for thirty years for the unauthorized disclosure of information about Project LUMAR, the program I managed.”
Her face softened. She put her arms around me. “Robbie, if you’d told me about that agreement, I wouldn’t have pressed you so hard for information or been so hurt that you wouldn’t trust me.” 
“I was even ordered not to tell anyone about the non-disclosure agreement,” I explained. I felt both relieved and exhilarated that, at last, I could share this secret with Anna, my wife and best friend of almost fifty years. 
I’d suppressed thoughts about the Top Secret construction program in Berlin, but the old visceral reaction persisted. Perhaps this once highly classified information could still be used by our former enemies, although they no longer existed. East Germany and their Secret Police, the Stasi, as well as the Soviet Union and its KGB, had passed into the history books many years earlier. 
Anna kissed the top of my head. “From the start of our relationship, I knew you were hiding something important, but I trusted you and believed you would tell me one day. I helped you with the charade, didn’t I?”
“Yes, despite everything that happened to you—to both of us, you helped to preserve my cover. I wouldn’t have succeeded without your support every step of the way, Anna.” I stood to give her a heartfelt hug and kiss.
“So now that this information is on the internet, you can tell me everything. I’ve always wanted to know the complete story.”
Anna deserved to know why she’d been the target of Stasi harassment and torture. I positioned her chair next to mine. “Let’s read this report together. Then you’ll finally learn what my construction crew and I were doing in Berlin.” Holding her hand to reassure her, I continued. “See the original classifications on the top and bottom of my plan? TOP SECRET RESTRICTED DISTRIBUTION/US EYES ONLY and the caveat PROJECT LUMAR.”
“All of those lines have been crossed out,” she observed. “What does that mean?”
“First, twenty years ago, the document was reclassified to SECRET. You can see that word was also lined through and dated. Last year, a large rubber stamp was used to declare the document I generated officially UNCLASSIFIED.”
“Early in our relationship, I realized that those communist bastards in the Stasi were making every effort to uncover your secret. My distinct impression was that you, Scott, Mark, and Kurt were dedicated to whatever you were doing. Because I trusted you, I hid my disappointment at being kept in the dark and did my best to help every step of the way.”
 “Yes, you did! There was an excellent reason I couldn’t tell you or anyone what I was doing. If one of the thousands of communist spies who entered West Berlin every day, or their myriad operatives at every level of German society, heard just one word, the whole game would have been over. The communists would have enjoyed another major victory.”
“What one word, for heaven's sake?” she asked, clearly intrigued.
“TUNNEL. Upon hearing that one word, the Russians and East Germans would have immediately begun a concerted search on both sides of the border between East and West Berlin. They would have discovered where we were digging and then used every means, including force, to sabotage my project.”
“I knew there was a tunnel!” Anna insisted. “During family reunions, our nieces and nephews still talk about your amazing tunnel. But you always avoid those conversations. You’ve even refused to confirm such a structure existed. Finally, you’ll be able to share the part you played in the building of that tunnel.”
 “Yes…Yes, I can!” So many memorable events, I realized. The closing of the Berlin Wall, the Berlin Crisis and the Tunnel. Memories of those fifteen months came rushing back, as if they’d happened only yesterday. Now, I could share it all with Anna.
“Robbie, tell me everything.”
“Where should I start? The day I arrived in Berlin. Let’s see it was October….October 11, 1960….As the aircraft began its descent….”

About the Author

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Roger L. Liles is an admitted over educated bibliophile who decided he had to earn a living after BA and graduate studies in Modern European History; he went back to school and eventually earned an MS in Engineering from USC in 1970. In the 1960s, he was stationed in Turkey and German for five years as a US Air Force Signals Intelligence Officer. He issued reports which got President Johnson out of bed at least five times. He eventually lived in Europe for almost 8 years. He worked in the military electronics field for forty years—his main function was to translate engineering jargon into understandable English and communicate it to senior decision makers in the US government. He took novel writing classes at UCLA for three years including the Master Novel Writers Class. Now retired, he spends most of his time writing novels, but also dotes over his collectables. He is a member of the Scribblers of North San Diego Country. This is his first published novel.  




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