The First John Russell Novel
“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
By 1939, Anglo-American journalist John Russell has spent over a decade in Berlin, where his son lives with his mother. He writes human-interest pieces for British and American papers, avoiding the investigative journalism that could get him deported. But as World War II approaches, he faces having to leave his son as well as his girlfriend of several years, a beautiful German starlet.
When an acquaintance from his old communist days approaches him to do some work for the Soviets, Russell is reluctant, but he is unable to resist the offer. He becomes involved in other dangerous activities, helping a Jewish family and a determined young American reporter. When the British and the Nazis notice his involvement with the Soviets, Russell is dragged into the murky world of warring intelligence services.
“John Russell has always been in the thick of things in David Downing’s powerful historical novels set largely in Berlin ... Downing provides no platform for debate in this unsentimental novel, leaving his hero to ponder the ethics of his pragmatic choices while surveying the ground level horrors to be seen in Berlin.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Full of striking inventions.”
—Kingsley Amis, Author of Lucky Jim
“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.”
"One of the most intelligent and persuasive realizations of Germany immediately before the war."
—Wall Street Journal
"[A]n unconventional thriller ... a finely drawn portrait of the capital of a nation marching in step toward disaster as the Nazi rulers count cadence."
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"There's nothing better than a well-written WWII thriller. Alan Furst continues to prove it, and now Downing has shown he can produce that creepy sense of paranoia along with the best of them."
—Rocky Mountain News
"Smooth, scary wartime thriller drenched in period atmosphere."
"Downing's fine new thriller introduces a clever and honorable hero ... [the ending] will have readers holding their breath ... Satisfying."
"If you like your tales spiced with morally ambiguous characters right out of Graham Greene, this is a train you need to be aboard.... A marvelous return to cerebral espionage."