In the fall of 1941, Anglo-American journalist John Russell is still living in Berlin, tied to the increasingly alien city by his love for two Berliners: his fourteen-year-old son Paul and his longtime girlfriend Effi. Forced to work for both German and American intelligence, he's searching for a way out of Germany. Can he escape and take Effi with him?
©2009 David Downing (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
“With strong, vivid prose, the author maintains a high level of suspense throughout, and makes the reader care about his leads.” (Publishers Weekly)
“This is a tense spy thriller that is particularly good at evoking the stark terror of living under the Nazis, and reminding us there was a German opposition to Hitler.” (Euro Crime )
Stettin Station is the third book in David Downing’s very excellent John Russell series. With characters introduced and developed in the prior two books (Zoo Station and Silesian Station), the action of Stettin Station takes place in Nazi Germany during the period from Germany’s invasion of Russia (June 1941) to America’s entry into WWII (December 1941). With meticulous research and the development of personalities that the reader can care about, Downing captures the mood of the times and provides enough action to keep momentum on a forward path. I now look forward to reading the fourth book in the series, Potsdam Station, inasmuch as I’ve become totally engrossed in the lives and times of Downing’s characters. Although Stettin Station can be successfully read as a stand alone novel, I strongly recommend that a new reader start first with Zoo Station.
Audiobooks have literally changed my life. I now actually ENJOY doing mindless chores because they give me plenty of listening time!
The third book in the John Russell WWII series takes place in 1941. The Nazis have started shipping trainloads of Jews to unknown parts, though Russell suspects it can't be anywhere good. Hitler's troops are fighting in Russia, but the best information he and the other foreign reporters can get is what the Germans are willing to tell them, and apparently they are winning one victory after another. John's actress girlfriend Effi keeps being offered parts in movies with blatant propagandist scenarios, and the latest script would have her interpreting the role of a deviant Jewish woman who cheats on her Nazi husband... but can she refuse it without offending Goebbels and getting in trouble? Finally, after one of his spying missions goes horribly wrong, John is forced to escape Berlin, and Effi surprises him with her foresight and resourcefulness, but will they managed to leave together unscathed?
This was by far the most thrilling book in the series so far, and Downing plunges us into an entirely believable recreation of WWII Berlin, where the small pleasures of life can still be found even as the horrors of the war keep piling up. I mostly feel frustrated that I've let too much time go by since I finished listening to the audiobook before writing this review, because the details have faded from memory, and I see I can't come close to doing justice to this great addition to an excellent series. Just start with the excellent Zoo Station and make your way to this one, and I'm sure you'll be dying to get to the next book, just as I am. Simon Prebble delivers great narration.
We are in the middle of this story, in five parts, and also at the most dangerous time of the war for our protagonist. Every step he takes is fraught with danger, but he is more worried for his fiancé, Effie, than he is for himself.
There is a scene at the docks in Danzig that is quite thrilling.
If you were an American in Berlin in December, 1941, how would YOU get out?
Sad to say volume 4 is not on Audible, but I am taking it on a road trip next month.
Writer, editor, translator.
I love this series and this was the first one I have listened to instead of reading. Simon Prebble's deep, resonant voice was nice, but his rapid pace took a little getting used to. Unfortunately, his female voices sounded a bit feeble, more like caricatures than real people. I forgot about it mostly, though, because Downing's story is riveting and his sense of place is impeccable.
The other aspect to the narration that was distracting was the volume level kept changing, sometimes in mid sentence. Careless editing, perhaps?
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