A John Russell WWII Thriller
By David Downing
(Soho Crime, Hardcover, 9781616950743, 304pp.)
Publication Date: May 8, 2012
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WWII has ended… But the danger has just begun for a spy caught between political superpowers.
Book 5 in the John Russell historical thriller series.
Paris, November 1945. John Russell is walking home along the banks of the Seine on a cold and misty evening when Soviet agent Yevgeny Shchepkin falls into step alongside him. Shchepkin tells Russell that the American intelligence will soon be asking him to undertake some low grade espionage on their behalf—assessing the strains between different sections of the German Communist Party—and that Shchepkin’s own bosses in Moscow want him to accept the task and pass his findings on to them. He adds that refusal will put Russell’s livelihood and life at risk, but that once he has accepted it, he’ll find himself even further entangled in the Soviet net. It’s a lose-lose situation.
Shchepkin admits that his own survival now depends on his ability to utilize Russell. The only way out for the two of them is to make a deal with the Americans. If they can come up with something the Americans want or need badly enough, then perhaps Russell will be forgiven for handing German atomic secrets over to Moscow and Shchepkin might be offered the sort of sanctuary that also safeguards the lives of his wife and daughter in Moscow. Every decision Russell makes now is a dangerous one.
David Downing grew up in suburban London. He is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction for both adults and children, including four novels featuring Anglo-American journalist John Russell and the nonfiction work Sealing Their Fate: The Twenty-Two Days That Decided World War II. He lives with his wife in Guildford, England.
"Outstanding.... Philip Kerr and Alan Furst fans will be pleased."
—Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
"Downing is a master at work."
—Huffington Post UK
"Powerfully and skillfully written, with constant suspense and sudden surprises of satisfaction, Lehrter Station is one of the vital 2012 books that I'd pack for a desert island—or a beach vacation, or a rainy weekend."
Praise for the John Russell 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
"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
“Reminiscent of Woody Allen’s Zelig, Russell, the hero of Downing’s espionage series, can’t seem to resist inserting himself into climactic moments of the 20th century ... Downing has been classed in the elite company of literary spy masters Alan Furst and Philip Kerr ... that flattering comparison is generally justified. If Downing is light on character study, he’s brilliant at evoking even the smallest details of wartime Berlin on its last legs.... Given the limited cast of characters, Downing must draw on almost Dickensian reserves of coincidences and close calls to sustain the suspense of his basic hide-and-seek story line. That he does ingeniously. It helps to read Downing’s novels in order, but if Potsdam Station is your first foray into Russell’s escapades, be forewarned that you may soon feel compelled to undertake a literary reconnaissance mission to retrieve and read the earlier books.”
“The echo of the Allied bombings and the crash of the boots of the invading Russians permeate the pages in which David Downing vividly does justice to the drama... The book is a reminder of what happened and those who allowed it to happen...The book lives up to the others in the Russell series, serving as yet one more reminder of a world too many have entirely forgotten.”
“Downing is brilliant at weaving history and fiction, and this plot, with its twists and turns—all under the terrible bombardment of Berlin and the Third Reich’s death throes—is as suspenseful as they come. The end, with another twist, is equally clever and unexpected.”
—Toronto Globe and Mail