Summer, 1939. British journalist John Russell has just been granted American citizenship in exchange for agreeing to work for American intelligence when his girlfriend, Effi, is arrested by the Gestapo. Russell hoped his new nationality would let him safely stay in Berlin with Effi and his son, but now he's being blackmailed.
To free Effi, he must agree to work for the Nazis. They know he has Soviet connections and want him to pass them false intelligence. Russell consents, but secretly offers his services to the Soviets instead - not for anything too dangerous, though, and only if they'll sneak him and Effi out of Germany if necessary.
It's a good plan, but soon things become complicated. A Jewish girl has vanished, and Russell feels compelled to search for her. A woman from his past, a communist, reappears, insisting he help her reconnect with the Soviets, who turn out to demand more than Russell hoped. Meanwhile, Europe lurches toward war, and he must follow the latest stories - to places where American espionage assignments await him.
©2008 David Downing; (P)2009 Audible Ltd
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This is the second in the series and if anything it's even better than the first, but if you're new to this, then start with Zoo Station first. Downing's complex character, John Russell, a British journalist stuck in immediately pre-war Berlin because he has a 12 year old son there with his estranged German wife. War is about to break out and he's trying to help the underground resistance movement, save a young Jewish girl and survive the advancing maelstrom. Backed up with supporting historical background and superbly narrated this is highly recommended.
"Paints a vivid portrait of pre-war Berlin."
"Silesian Station" is the second in the "Station" series and without giving anything away, follows immediately on from "Zoo Station" which you really need to read first. I was new to David Downing when I was recommended "Zoo Station", and was so taken with his well researched, detailed and vivid historical picture of pre-war Berlin, that I immediately read the second.
In both books, David Downing mixes real historical events so seamlessly into the narrative that you are drawn into the story, lives and fate of the characters. For me, it's like Le Carre at his best, and this book does not disappoint on any level. As for the narration, I could listen to Simon Prebble read forever and still not get bored. He is a perfect match to this book.
"Superb follow up"
Superb follow up to Zoo Station. Excellent story line, really well researched
locations and a great plot.
I really enjoy this type of novel, I look forward to the next David Downing novel.
"Ended too soon!"
Having read the first one I was encouraged to read on. This was almost as enjoyable and interesting enough to continue the series. Could do with more tension!
"Absorbing and atmospheric"
I dont think you could really describe this book as a run of the mill thriller, though it has its moments. It is too low key for that. But it paints a frighteningly plausible picture of what it must have been like to live in Nazi Germany before the war, and how a decent man copes with the ambivalence and the compromises that have to be made to survive and protect friends and family. And the tension is racked up slowly to an excellent climax.
Narration is perfectly suited to the style of the book (John Prebble is also the narrator in the superb Jonathan Norrell and Mr Strange).
"Really - what is it about?"
I didn't enjoy this book. It's long winded, no real point to it and all of the action comes in the last chapter. I found myself drifting off more than once. It doesn't stand out from others of the sane genre
It's not breakneck in any way, but well crafted, interesting, thought-provoking and very well narrated.
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