Review: Foreign correspondant John Russell takes on a more dangerous job than he imagines in 1939 Germany in Silesian Station, the second mystery in this series by David Downing.
Though British by birth, Russell has maintained a stance of neutrality while living in pre-war Germany. When it becomes apparent that Germany is preparing to declare war on England, Russell takes his son on a vacation to America. While there he decides to obtain citizenship and, more importantly, an American passport. The Intelligence Department requests that in return for a passport he, as a reporter, supply them with any firsthand knowledge, overt or covert, concerning Germany's plans towards the war, Upon his return to Germany, he discovers that his girlfriend Effi has been imprisoned by the Gestapo for insulting the Fuhrer. Russell is told he must see the Chief of Germany's Intelligence Agency to free her. Knowing that Russell has many journalistic friends in most countries, the Chief tells him that the only way they would release Effi was if he were to contact one of his counterparts in Russia to obtain information about their movements in the war. Russell agrees, but when he meets with the Russian officials they offer a counter-proposal: supply false information to the Germans and they would help him, Effi, and his son safely escape to a neutral country should the need arise. In a matter of days Russell goes from being a neutral observer of the war to an active, albeit undercover, participant for three countries on a collision course. Will he be able to do what's needed and keep his loved ones safe?
Though the sheer number of agency relationships in Silesian Station may appear to be daunting for the reader, Downing handles it all deftly by keeping the action moving forward without sacrificing period detail. And that is the real hidden gem in this novel, a peek into the lives of everyday Germans during the early days of the war. That Russell is associated with three governments also provides an insight as to the positions these countries were taking prior to active involvement. This is an intricately crafted fictional story (and a traditional mystery no less involving a missing Jewish girl) embedded within a historical context, and it comes together so remarkably well.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Silesian Station.
Acknowledgment: Soho Press provided a copy of Silesian Station for this review.
Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Soho Press (Hardcover), May 2007
ISBN-13: 9781569474549; ISBN-10: 1569474540
Location(s) referenced in Silesian Station: Berlin, Germany
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Silesian Station by David Downing — A John Russell Mystery
Publisher: Soho Press
Publication Date: May 2008
List Price: $24.00
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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