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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thriller of some class
I really liked "Zoo Station", the first John Russell thriller but with "Silesian Station", David Downing has crafted a thriller of some class worthy of the likes of Alan Furst or John le Carre.

"Silesian Station" is a well-written, well-researched thriller set in Berlin in the weeks leading up to the outbreak of the Second World War. John Russell, a journalist,...
Published on 6 April 2008 by ST FERGUSON

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ponderous second book in the Station series
This feels like a long book for one that comes in at just over 300 pages. That's essentially down to the chapters being quite lengthy and packed with detail, but the story itself meanders quite badly and feels directionless some of the time.

Downing's ability to reconstruct the atmosphere in Europe on the brink of war in 1939 can't be faulted, but the plot...
Published 5 months ago by Jl Adcock


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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thriller of some class, 6 April 2008
By 
ST FERGUSON "Bromsgrovian" (Bromsgrove, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Silesian Station (Paperback)
I really liked "Zoo Station", the first John Russell thriller but with "Silesian Station", David Downing has crafted a thriller of some class worthy of the likes of Alan Furst or John le Carre.

"Silesian Station" is a well-written, well-researched thriller set in Berlin in the weeks leading up to the outbreak of the Second World War. John Russell, a journalist, becomes involved in espionage, in the embryonic Jewish resistance and in the hunt for a young woman who has disappeared shortly after arriving in Berlin.

The characters are well drawn, the plot measured and the atmosphere evoked outstanding. In Russell, David Downing has created an excellent character of some complexity.

I look forward eagerly to the third book in the series.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Fine Mess, 24 Feb. 2009
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J. E. Parry "Jeff Parry" (Pontypool, Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Silesian Station (Paperback)
I have been waiting for something like this for almost 20 years. A series about pre-war Germany that actually makes you feel that you are there.
Not since Phillip Kerr has someone come along who has created a character and stories to equal his Bernie Gunther series.

I read Zoo Station before Christmas and held out on reading this so that I could enjoy this and prepeare for the what will hopefully be the third in the series later this year.

I read this while recovering from the flu and kept my wife amused as I purred, laughed and sighed my way through the book. It immediately brought back my own visits to Berlin (though not that long ago). You can smell the food, beer and see the sights as you read the book.

Russell is again caught in a vice between the German, Russian and American intelligence services. In between times he has a missing Jewsess to locate. All this is set against the impending war that everyone knows, and fears, is coming.

We follow Russell as he travels around Eastern Europe, taking in an occupied Czech republic, an "autonomous" Slovak republic, a pre=invasion Warsaw and Moscow just as the non agression treaty is agreed.

We meet spies, policemen, actresses and ordinary people struggling to survive in "the cage" - as Nazi Germany was known to those who lived there.

There is not only a thriller here but moments of comedy that surface without warning; moments where your heart is squeezed and, hidden away, small stories of everyday events that really happened.

Buy this and enjoy a great read by a superb author who really knows his craft and his historical place.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Convincing and compelling, 3 Nov. 2008
This review is from: Silesian Station (Paperback)
Like Zoo Station, this is a thoroughly detailed and gripping historical spy novel. Appealing are the backdrop, the gathering pace and especially the way the lead character falls into a horribly complicated situation without really trying. Really good, I await the third volume with bated breath.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Darker but just as good, 5 April 2011
By 
Darren McCormac (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Silesian Station (Kindle Edition)
The second book in the Station series is as tightly written as the first, but much darker. We are quickly drawn into Berlin in summer 1939, just before the War, and whilst on the surface life is good for John Russell, things quickly take a turn for the worse when he is asked to look into the disappearance of a young Jewish girl. This is one story arc, and one that ends with imagination and pace towards the end of the book.

As with the first book, espionage plays a part and at times it's easy to forget who is playing off who, and who is getting fake information and who knows what. But that does take us on a whistlestop tour of central and eastern Europe during the days of quickening Nazi occupation and aggression, again Downing paints a very involving, gripping picture - all the more so if you have been to Berlin or any of the other cities mentioned.

Another theme of the book is the thoughts and words of ordinary Germans during this era - yes there is some licence here, but it's a good reminder that fundamentally we are all the same and few people look forward to war...

In all, an intricately-woven web of a story that manages to grip and entertain, without being too heavy - considering the subject matter. Now on to book three...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ponderous second book in the Station series, 28 Nov. 2014
By 
Jl Adcock "John Adcock" (Ashtead UK) - See all my reviews
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This feels like a long book for one that comes in at just over 300 pages. That's essentially down to the chapters being quite lengthy and packed with detail, but the story itself meanders quite badly and feels directionless some of the time.

Downing's ability to reconstruct the atmosphere in Europe on the brink of war in 1939 can't be faulted, but the plot feels a bit slow and laboured, and the fact that journalist John Russell is also combining his day job with espionage duties for the Nazis and the Russians adds layers of complexity that occasionally need some unpicking.

The main story - the disappearance of a young Jewish girl arriving in Berlin - is finally resolved at the end of the book, but rather lamely it must be said, and after a suspenseful final chapter the narrative drags on a bit too long. As another reviewer has rightly said, the book was in need of an edit to give it some sense of pace, because this is lacking for large chunks of the book as Russell rides around parts of Europe on endless train journeys.

Perhaps the meticulous attention to detail is the appeal in this series, but there needs to be an injection of something new in the later titles, otherwise it's going to be a hard journey to the end. As mentioned in a review of Zoo Station, I unwisely started this series with one of the mid-point books, which you simply can't do - so I'll stick with them in the right order now, but hope for something a bit pacier in the next one: Stettin Station.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read Zoo Station first..., 12 Dec. 2009
By 
Paradigmshift (Bournemouth, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Silesian Station (Paperback)
...and then get this one.

Better still, buy this one, Zoo Station and the one after: Stettin Station. Make yourself comfy and have a great read. They are really good, balanced and well researched.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent evocation of life in Nazi Berlin, 22 Dec. 2009
This review is from: Silesian Station (Paperback)
This atmospheric portrait of life in wartime Germany is a well observed and chilling observation of the depressing reality of life under Nazi rule.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb atmosphere, 1 Sept. 2013
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Silesian Station, the second in a consistently excellent series, combines a great story with convincing and sympathetic characters. Above all, however, you can almost touch the atmosphere of Berlin on the cusp of war, taste the food, hear the sounds of the S-Bahn, feel the oppressively warm days as war slides unstoppably closer. Strongly recommended!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow in places, 9 Sept. 2010
By 
Sue K (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Silesian Station (Paperback)
This is my first foray in David Downing's "Station Books" and I'm tempted to read more - but ..... I am over half way through the book and am still waiting to find out what happened to the young girl on the train at the beginning of the story! It is a good read but I am getting slightly frustrated with Russell's day to day diary style activities - I know he meets his friends regularly at the Club to get information and he takes his girlfriend for dinner with friends etc but I want the story to move on just a tad quicker. Perhaps I am being presumptious and should finish the book first but I want more to happen at the stage I am at.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic period feel, 23 Feb. 2015
By 
James Kemp (Merstham, Surrey, UK) - See all my reviews
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Second in the series, and it ends where I expected the first to end. It starts a few weeks on from where the previous book left off. In late July 1939 John Russell is returning to Germany from America by boat with his son.

Definitely an interesting read, Downing has clearly done his research well. There is a fantastic period feel to it. Especially the embuggerance around the travelling to and from Poland. The places and the people are very well described, and the latter are well observed and seem real. The danger in the air from unguarded comments is real for these characters, and they are mainly circumspect with strangers.

I was also pleased to see how Russell’s film star girlfriend develops too. She starts the story with a few days booked into the Gestapo‘s finest basement hotel. While this is a cynical manipulation by the Gestapo to put pressure on Russell it has a noticeable effect on Effi Koenen. Effi gets radicalised, and she becomes part of the plot in a more active way. This allows for a slightly wider perspective on events as well as more discussion between characters.

The action picks up a gear too as this book progresses. As well as the SD and the Soviets wanting Russell to work for them the Americans get in on the act too. Russell tries his best to skirt around all of it, pleasing those he cannot avoid and avoiding ending up in a nazi concentration camp. All the while he observes and reports on the changes within Germany. Towards the end he starts to get more involved in helping people to escape, his humanity won’t allow him to stand by and watch the Jews get persecuted.

The finale is pretty bloody, but the outbreak of war seems to overshadow the climax. I went straight into the third in the series off the back of it.
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Silesian Station
Silesian Station by David Downing (Paperback - 3 Mar. 2008)
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