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Stettin Station (A John Russell WWII Spy Thriller) Hardcover – May 1, 2010


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Product Details

  • Series: A John Russell WWII Spy Thriller
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Press; 1 edition (May 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569476349
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569476345
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,019,452 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fans of the intelligent WWII thrillers of Alan Furst and Philip Kerr should enjoy Downing's atmospheric and tension-filled third novel featuring Anglo-American journalist John Russell (after Silesian Station). By November 1941, Russell has decided that he and his German actress girlfriend, Effi Koenen, need to leave Berlin while they still can, but given Koenen's high public profile, he must find an illegal way to do so. His planning coincides with the escalation of tensions between the U.S. and Japan as well as growing evidence that the Nazis have begun carrying out the Final Solution with the forced transport of Berlin's Jewish community. Russell's complicated life, which includes serving as a courier for the Wehrmacht intelligence service, makes him an obvious candidate for extra scrutiny by the Gestapo, a further obstacle to escaping Germany. With strong, vivid prose, the author maintains a high level of suspense throughout, and makes the reader care about his leads. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Praise for Stettin Station

“As complex and clever as the best of Kerr and Kanon, and it has spies for added style ... A tightly constructed novel with a complex plot set in a world that is on the verge of a terrible madness. Downing captures all of that and a bit more, with a touch of old-fashioned romance that really does call out for Bergman and Bogart.”
Globe & Mail

“Downing distinguishes himself by eschewing the easy ways out. He doesn't shy away from portraying the cold brutality of the Third Reich, and his characters are far from stereotypes—they're flawed, confused and real.”
Michael Schaub, NPR

“[Downing] is at his best with setting and historical detail, and this novel does not disappoint. His sharply drawn descriptions of daily life within the beleaguered Nazi capital ring true, as do the characters that inhabit it. His sense of place is outstanding.”
—Historical Novels Review

“Fans of the intelligent WWII thrillers of Alan Furst and Philip Kerr should enjoy Downing’s atmospheric and tension-filled third novel featuring Anglo-American journalist John Russell . . . With strong vivid prose, the author maintains a high level of suspense throughout, and makes the reader care about his leads.”
—Publishers Weekly

“It is a tale of terror with a thrill-a-page pace.”
—Spinetingler Magazine

 “Downing's novels are a glimpse at the human side of the war . . . I highly recommend Stettin Station.
—Gumshoe Reviews

Praise for David Downing's John Russell World War II Spy Thriller series


"Epic in scope, Mr. Downing's "Station" cycle creates a fictional universe rich with a historian's expertise but rendered with literary style and heart."
—The Wall Street Journal

“A beautifully crafted and compelling thriller with a heart-stopping ending . . . An unforgettable read.”
—Charles Todd, author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge Series
 
"Downing's outstanding evocation of the times (as masterly as that found in Alan Furst's novels or Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther series), thematic complexity (as rich as that of John le Carré), and the wide assortment of fully rendered characters provide as much or more pleasure than the plot, where disparate threads are tied together in satisfying and unexpected ways."
Library Journal, Starred Review

“Downing is brilliant at weaving history and fiction . . . equally clever and unexpected.”
Toronto Globe and Mail


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

I read the first in this series through Book Bub and am now hooked.
Kevin P. Shimkus
I love Furst's evocative locations -- you feel you are living in Paris in 1942-43, etc -- Downing does for Berlin what Furst does for Paris.
A. Mills
The confusion might reflect an accurate expression of the times, however, none of the characters really had enough depth.
seegla brecher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Blue in Washington TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
David Downing's third installment of the "Station" series with protagonist John Russell is a winner. The chronology has jumped to late 1941. Hitler has invaded the Soviet Union with great initial success, but the war is about to widen with the entry of Japan and the United States. Anglo-American journalist/spy John Russell barely manages to hang on in Berlin, staying a step ahead of the Gestapo by working for several competing or opposing intelligence agencies. To leave Germany means giving up his film star fiance, Effi Koenen and son Paul. As the formal entry of the U.S. into the war approaches and with it his inevitable expulsion from Germany, Russell is pulled deeper into the political maneuvering of virtually all of his erstwhile employers or masters--the Abwehr, SD, U.S. Embassy and the Gestapo. Ultimately, the cross purposes served by the journalist spy will catch up with him and drive him to flee the country, and flight will require the help of still another old employer, the Soviets. Downing has laid down a very entertaining story line, and even when it occasionally reaches a bit far to be completely credible on reflection, it certainly holds the reader's attention throughout.

Overall, one of the great strengths of this book--and the series--is author Downing's wonderfully detailed and evocative narrative that provides a totally plausible day-to-day portrayal of how Berliners lived during the still relatively early days of WWII. There is a running commentary on what food and toiletries were available and how that affected the environment on public transportation. Through Russell's fiance, Effi, there is a detailed look at the German film industry of the time, which aimed to produce 100 morale-boosting flicks a year.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ted Feit VINE VOICE on July 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The chronicle of journalist John Russell begins in Nazi Berlin a week before Pearl Harbor in this, the third novel in the series [with a fourth, "Potsdam Station," to come]. The descriptions of Gestapo tactics and the beginnings of the "final solution" are eerily chilling.

Russell is ostensibly a correspondent for a San Francisco newspaper, allowing the author to describe the machinations of the Nazi censors and propaganda machine with vivid detail, while his protagonist acts as a go-between between German and American intelligence agents, carrying messages back and forth. He even obtains proof that the Gestapo is removing Jews from Berlin and planning to gas them, even though he can hardly publish the story.

As conditions worsen, Russell has to find a way to get out of Germany, hoping to bring his long-time girlfriend with him. It is a tale of terror with a thrill-a-page pace. Descriptions of wartime Berlin and the police state remind us of a period many may have forgotten, but of which we, and they, should perhaps be reminded.

Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Berger VINE VOICE on December 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
The John Russell stories continue. With America about to enter the war, the Anglo-American foreign correspondent realizes he must leave Germany, but worries over leaving girlfriend Effi, a popular screen actress, and teenage son Paul.

Clouding his chances for departure is the secret work he's done the last two years - acting as go-between for Germany's foreign intelligence Abwehr and the U.S. Now they each want more out of him: American spooks pressure him to make a risky try for German military secrets, while the Abwehr's Admiral Canaris wants him to deliver a secret message to occupied Prague as return for relocating Russell to Switzerland to safely continue liaising with the Americans.

The Abwehr is at odds with the Gestapo, which can't wait to catch the anti-Hitler, pro-Western Canaris committing treason. And the Gestapo has never really stopped suspecting Russell, a former Communist they've manipulated against the Russians in the past. As their surveillance of him tightens he find his, and Effi's, options narrowing.

Russell starts getting wind of mass shootings of Jews in the occupied Soviet territories and plans for gas chambers. He secretly witnesses mass deportations of German Jews to "the East" beginning out of Berlin's rail yards.

Downing continues his fine scene-setting. Now two years into the war, and five months after the invasion of the Soviet Union, Berlin is a place of blackouts, rations, nightly air raids, and Gestapo terror. The characters find themselves preoccupied with getting a decent meal or a cup of real coffee as they try to decipher propaganda and censored news for what's really happening on the fronts in Russia and North Africa.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on May 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In November 1941 in Berlin, Anglo-American journalist John Russell knows Roosevelt needs an excuse to enter the war as the German armies blitzkrieg towards Moscow. To avoid censorship or worse, Russell is very careful with what he files as he knows it will take little for the Nazis to detain, kill or export him. This would leave his famous girlfriend actress Effi Koenen behind still filming propaganda movies for the Nazis' whom she and John loath and he also would be unable to help his teenage son Paul, who lives with his former wife while belonging to the Hitler Youth group.

Meanwhile as most Berliners blindly remain loyal to the Nazis, John's Communist friends report the transporting by trains of Jews to the east. Admiral Canaris, head of Abwehr, assigns John on a mission in Prague with a promise of a passage to Switzerland. However, the mission fails, but John tries to send to his contacts that American companies in Europe are profiteering from the war by selling Zyklon B gas to the Nazis.

The third Russell WWII espionage thriller (see Zoo Station and Silesian Station) is a great entry that in many ways is more a superb historical as David Downing captures the essence of Berlin just prior to the American entry into the war. The atmosphere is terrific as the Nazis deploy the Final Solution and attack the Russians while Russell struggles with getting himself and his renowned girlfriend to safety yet not wanting to abandon his son to the Hitler Group nor ignore the sales of poison gas. Readers will feel they are in Berlin in late 1941 as Stettin Station is a timely tale.

Harriet Klausner
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