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Masaryk Station: A John Russell Thriller, Book 6 | [David Downing]

Masaryk Station: A John Russell Thriller, Book 6

Berlin, early 1948: The city, still occupied by the four Allied powers, still largely in ruins, has become the cockpit of a new Cold War, and as spring unfolds its German inhabitants live in fear of the Soviets enforcing a Western withdrawal. Here, as elsewhere in Europe, the legacies of the War have become entangled in the new Soviet-American conflict, creating a world of bizarre and fleeting loyalties, a paradise for spies. John Russell works for both Stalin’s NKVD and the newly-created CIA. He does as little for either as he can safely get away with.
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Publisher's Summary

Berlin, early 1948: The city, still occupied by the four Allied powers, still largely in ruins, has become the cockpit of a new Cold War, and as spring unfolds its German inhabitants live in fear of the Soviets enforcing a Western withdrawal. Here, as elsewhere in Europe, the legacies of the War have become entangled in the new Soviet-American conflict, creating a world of bizarre and fleeting loyalties, a paradise for spies.

John Russell works for both Stalin’s NKVD and the newly-created CIA. He does as little for either as he can safely get away with, and between the tawdry tasks they set him - assessing dubious defectors in Trieste, running a spy ring in a Berlin VD clinic, rescuing ex-Nazis who might prove useful from Czechoslovakia - he seeks a way to cut himself loose.

His partner Effi Koenen has an easier time, starring in a popular radio series and looking after their adopted daughter Rosa, until a woman she helped save in the War turns up on her doorstep, and admits to a child she left behind all those years before, a child now trapped behind the new iron curtain.

©2013 David Downing (P)2013 AudioGO

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.4 (40 )
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2.4 (36 )
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  •  
    joyce ESSEX FELLS, NJ, United States 07-16-13
    joyce ESSEX FELLS, NJ, United States 07-16-13 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "What a disappointment...and it's all the narrator"
    Would you try another book from David Downing and/or Michael Healy?

    I love David Downing! this is the 6th audible book of his i purchased. The narrator is so miserable you can hardly follow the story. Simon Prebble made Downing's words come alive. In fact, the listener is riveted. This narrator should be fired from all future readings. his voice is droning, and i finally figured out why my Iphone has settings for increasing the speed at which you listen...If I didn't love these stories so much and was so interested in the lives of the characters, I would have given up long ago


    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Liz Adelaide, South Australia 12-17-14
    Liz Adelaide, South Australia 12-17-14 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Appalling narration"
    What would have made Masaryk Station better?

    Simon Prebble narrating


    What other book might you compare Masaryk Station to and why?

    Can't, as I couldn't finish it. Will have to read it instead.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Michael Healy’s performances?

    Certainly not. If I could have given this zero stars I would have.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Couldn't finish listening to it.


    Any additional comments?

    I wish I'd taken note of the comments from other readers before purchasing it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joshua Spring Mills, PA, United States 03-06-14
    Joshua Spring Mills, PA, United States 03-06-14 Member Since 2010
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    "A nice completion to a good series, nearly ruined."

    I've worked my way through the John Russel series, by David Downing, and enjoyed all of them. I don't understand why the whole series isn't available. I bought the paperback of the missing book so I could maintain the story line. I suppose the series can be read out of order, but it is really more of a single long novel and more enjoyable to read in order. This book did a nice job of summing up and closing the series. If you've enjoyed the story and characters in these somewhat slow paced, but well written books, I think you could enjoy this one.

    But,,,,(and it's a significant but), the reader is nearly awful. The book is full of mispronunciations. I can ignore a lot of that, but the reader sometimes pronounces the proper name "Thomas" in the ordinary way, (tomas), but then, inexplicably will pronounce the Th, (thomas, as in Thermos), Again and again. It's really annoying.

    So, if you can find this book performed by another reader, buy that version. If you can't, well, the story is a good solid David Downing story and important for closure to those of us who follow a series, so you'll just have to try to turn a deaf ear to the narrator, and do your best to enjoy the writing.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Holroyd Fairhaven, MA United States 02-01-14
    David Holroyd Fairhaven, MA United States 02-01-14 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Big fan ...but"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The narrator. I was tempted to give up.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    His diction and pronunciation are poor.


    Any additional comments?

    Not the best work in the series, but once you're hooked!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim McBride 08-21-13
    Jim McBride 08-21-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Deserves a better reader"

    I can't imagine a narrator less interested in the material he was reading than this one. He made almost no effort to differentiate among the characters with voice, inflection, accent, dynamics -- i.e., acting. Nor did he even try to properly pronounce the myriad of foreign names and phrases sprinkled throughout the book.I've read all of David Downing's excellent John Russell novels that depict the intrigues, human and political, that formed, deformed, and reformed the German experience before, during, and after World War II. This latest installment stands tall among them.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Prof Dee 08-20-15
    Prof Dee 08-20-15

    Plugot

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    2
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    "A turgid tale told with little enthusiasm."
    Would you try another book from David Downing and/or Michael Healy?

    I have read all of David Downing's previous "station" books and I'm afraid this last one went off track. It seemed tired and narratively listless. This lethargic storytelling was amplified by the nearly somnabulistic narration. It lacked excitement, enthusiasm, or engagement. It's the first book I've listened to read by Michael Healy, and it will be the last.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    The concept could have been interesting, however, the extremely flat reading defeated whatever drama the writer tried to imbue in the pages.


    How could the performance have been better?

    It could have had some variation which expressed the underlying subtext. As it is, it is without a doubt the most boring performance of any audio book I've yet encountered.


    Do you think Masaryk Station needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    Put the series to sleep. If this current version is any reflection of Downing's current work, then he needs to find something new to pursue.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark S. Traub Westchester, NY USA 12-18-14
    Mark S. Traub Westchester, NY USA 12-18-14 Member Since 2005

    Mark T

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Horible narration"
    What did you like best about Masaryk Station? What did you like least?

    I love these characters, John Russell and Effie, I have followed them through 6 books and found their depth wonderful.

    The narration was as bad as I've ever heard in over 600 books.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It was a nice wrap-up to the series (or is it a wrap-up?)


    How could the performance have been better?

    The performance was riddled with terrible rhythms, horrible pronunciations and boring intonations.


    Could you see Masaryk Station being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    There should be a series for TV with John and Effie for the 6 books.


    Any additional comments?

    This book deserves a do-over with a better narrator.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catharine 09-20-14
    Catharine 09-20-14
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    "It's all about the narrator"
    What would have made Masaryk Station better?

    a different narrator


    What was most disappointing about David Downing’s story?

    Story is great but I couldn't finish it because the narration was so poor


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Michael Healy?

    George Guidall, Simon Preble, William Kitchens


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointment because of the narration. I've read all the preceding books and will now buy this one if it's available


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    WALTER ARCADIA, CA, United States 01-27-14
    WALTER ARCADIA, CA, United States 01-27-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Excellent Story Ruined by a New Inferior Reader"
    Where does Masaryk Station rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    The books in this series by Davis Downing are all excellent; this current one, apparently the last in the series, is no exception to the excellent rating.


    What didn’t you like about Michael Healy’s performance?

    Terrible phrasing, flat affect, awful pronunciation of German and Italian names, unlike the reader of all the previous novels in this series, Simon Prebble, who is a uniformly wonderful narrator.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, until I heard the reader; after that, listening became a chore.


    Any additional comments?

    It is truly a shame that the previously excellent series has been ruined by an inferior reader - what idiot made this decision to change?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    WindowViper Atlanta, GA USA 09-14-13
    WindowViper Atlanta, GA USA 09-14-13 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "the narrator is OK"
    Any additional comments?

    The narrator, Michael Healy, has been severely criticized by other listeners. I could find fault with his performance too. His pronunciation of German words is terrible, which is forgivable in a foreigner, though I can't imagine how he gets "Luther" out of "Lothar" and not only because the "h" is not pronounced in that context in German. But he is certainly not "droning," as one reviewer put it. I, too, was somewhat put off at the beginning, but I think that was only because his style was different from the earlier, excellent narrators. Or maybe it just took him a while to get into the story. In any case, he did get into it and made the story interesting.

    Regarding the story itself, it becomes clear that Russell (and probably Downing too) is an ardent socialist. As a free market capitalist sharply opposed to socialism, I was offended by the moral equivalency drawn between Soviets and Americans. Although that comes out to some degree in earlier novels, it is the principal theme of this one. That was ideologically offensive to me, but don't let it turn you off. If you are not a fan of socialism already, you learn a lot about how those of that persuasion think and, most importantly, how that played into mid-20th century history.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
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  • David
    Wirral, United Kingdom
    3/22/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "having loved David Downing's previous books..."

    ...I thought I'd go against the previous reviews and get the book anyway because it can't be as bad as the narrator was painted...it is...and then some. So far I've stopped it twice and read other books...the narrator is appalling, it must've been done on the cheap this...he reads it monotone, like he didn't bother to proof read it the first time, it's awful, I'm so disappointed. I will be staying away from him in future...and Mr Downing, if you use him again, I'll be staying away from you too!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • David
    Stockbridge, United Kingdom
    9/19/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "OK Story, poor performance"
    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The narration is poor. Do not get a book narrated by him. It is as though he is narrating a book but doesn't really want to. No effort was made on the German pronunciation, the flow and sense of the sentences was not maintained making it hard to listen to and there were multiple words mispronounced, almost as though they were unknown to the reader but he couldn't be bothered to find out what they were.


    You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    The story is OK, being the sixth in the series but also the weakest of the series.


    Any additional comments?

    Don't let this one put you off the first three books in the series - Zoo, Stettin and Silesian stations, which are well narrated and good stories. Potsdam station - the best of the series I think, is unfortunately not available at the moment.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Mr
    11/2/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good Plot. Awful narration."
    What was one of the most memorable moments of Masaryk Station?

    Having enjoyed Zoo, Silesian and Stettin stations on audio, I was doubly disappointed a) by two missing volumes: Pottsdam and Lehrter stations and b) by one of the worst audion narrations I've ever heard. I didn't trouble to check the narrator but it sounds as though English is not his first language. Perhaps someone thought this might lend the novel authenticity... or perhaps the narrator came cheap. Either way, a dreadful disappointment after the first 3 audios... made worse by the gap of two novels. Who plans this stuff? Seriously...


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Chusan Services Ltd
    6/18/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Don't buy this book"
    Would you try another book written by David Downing or narrated by Michael Healy?

    David Downing - YesMichael Healy - No


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    Didn't get beyond chapter one.


    What didn’t you like about Michael Healy’s performance?

    Nothing!This, unfortunately, is the second book this month that has been spoiled by the choice of the reader. Michael Healy is another American who can't read aloud. I doubt he's ever heard the phrase 'tonal modulation' and wouldn't know what it was if he had! Remember the teacher/tutor/instructor who spoke in such a monotonous, boring way that most of the class were asleep in the first five minutes? That's Michael Healy!


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Anger and sadness.


    Any additional comments?

    Luckily I have the Kindle version...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • merlinsrevenge
    1/25/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I have heard instructions read aloud better"

    This narrator makes me wish for an abridged version........just awful. Ruined a good story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Flossie dog
    5/8/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brilliant book spoiled by a dreadful narrator!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Masaryk Station to be better than the print version?

    I've listened to the audiobooks of the first 3 books in this series and read the 4th and 5th (as they don't seem to be available on audio as yet). I have thoroughly enjoyed all but this last one. The story-lines are excellent - informative, atmospheric and gripping; real page-turners. Masaryk Station, however, was totally spoiled for me by the dire narration. The modulation and inflection were dreadful and pronunciation (of English, German and Russian) was little,short of pitiful. I can't believe that the director / producer could be satisfied with producing such a dreadful audiobook. I was so disappointed that I shall be reading the printed version for myself!


    What other book might you compare Masaryk Station to, and why?

    Similar to the Bernie Gunther series by Philip Kerr - all excellent stories. All these, however, had competent narrators!


    Would you be willing to try another one of Michael Healy’s performances?

    Definitely not!


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Intrigue in post-war Berlin


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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