Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Downing's anticlimactic sixth and final John Russell thriller (after 2012's Lehrter Station) opens with a horrific scene: one night in the winter of 1948, two Russians abduct two German sisters and drive them to a grand house outside Berlin, where one sister is shot dead, the other raped. Meanwhile, Russell is in Trieste, helping the Americans interrogate possible war criminals, while his wife, Effi, is in Berlin, working as an actress and raising their 11-year-old adopted daughter, Rosa, whose parents were killed during the war. Their parallel stories unfold with Downing's characteristically solid prose and exhaustive knowledge of post-WWII Europe. There's plenty of intrigue, but not nearly enough action until Russell interviews a Russian, a self-described technician with cinematic expertise, who claims to have a film of the German girl's murder. The pace of the book accelerates and generates some palpable suspense that features the Prague railway station of the title. Agent: Charlie Viney, Viney Agency. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Berlin, 1948. Still occupied by the four Allied powers and largely in ruins, the city has become the cockpit of a new Cold War. 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. As spring unfolds, a Western withdrawal looks increasingly likely. Berlin’s German inhabitants live in fear of the Soviet forces who occupy half the city, and whose legacy of violence has ripped apart many families.
John Russell works for both Stalin's NKVD and the newly created CIA, trying his best to cut himself loose from both before his double-agency is discovered by either. As tensions between the great powers escalate, each passing day makes Russell’s position more treacherous. He and his Soviet liaison, Shchepkin, seek out one final operation—one piece of intelligence so damning it could silence the wrath of one nation and solicit the protection of the other. It will be the most dangerous task Russell has ever taken on, but one way or the other, it will be his last.
About the Author
David Downing grew up in suburban London. He is the author of five previous books in the John Russell series, Zoo Station, Silesian Station, Stettin Station
, Potsdam Station
, and Lehrter Station
. He lives with his wife, an American
acupuncturist, in Guildford, England.