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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Living through desperate times
With the final installment in the John Russell series of novels, David Downing now takes his characters to the first crisis of the Cold War with the Berlin Airlift. Loose ends left from the previous book are tied up, sorting out what will happen to characters and relationships; and along the way the author subtly uses what is occurring politically in Yugoslavia, and in...
Published 15 months ago by Christopher H

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a great end
This series has got quite repetitive. More meetings on benches, close escapes at borders, its got a bit boring

Attention to detail let down too - managing to copy a film without any need for processing or developing it? Video tape hadn't been invented in 1948 methinks?
Published 11 months ago by Milhist


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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Living through desperate times, 21 May 2013
By 
Christopher H (Keilor, Australia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
With the final installment in the John Russell series of novels, David Downing now takes his characters to the first crisis of the Cold War with the Berlin Airlift. Loose ends left from the previous book are tied up, sorting out what will happen to characters and relationships; and along the way the author subtly uses what is occurring politically in Yugoslavia, and in Czechoslovakia, to present the two main options facing East Germany as Stalin cracks down on countries he has occupied. Of course, there is a mystery to solve, too - a puzzling suicide - but it isn't forced. People get on with everyday living.

If John Russell is often away on work in Trieste, Prague and other locations, his wife Effi Koenen is back in Berlin, and it is through her that we watch the Russians clamp down on the capital, inch by inch trying to isolate the city and cut it off. In this Russell's old friend Gerhard Strohm gives the view from inside the German communist party, showing how members are manipulated/coerced by Moscow into doing things they fundamentally disagree with. Strohm is incredulous to discover that forced Labor Camps are being set up within East Germany, and through him we see the impact that Koestler's then fresh novel Darkness at Noon had on German communists as Russian oppression set in. In subtle ways Effi and Gerhard characterise Berliners who can see repression creeping up, and just don't know what to do to prevent the rise of a new police state.

Downing's books are often compared to Philip Kerr's and Alan Furst's, although to my mind they have more the gradual pace, complexity of characterisation and strength of detail of Eric Ambler (especially Judgement on Deltchev) and Olivia Manning's Fortunes of War: The Balkan Trilogy. There isn't the rush from one suspenseful incident to another, or the language and mood of a hard boiled thriller. John Russell doesn't go looking for trouble, doesn't bed-hop, and isn't making wise-cracks to the reader. If I certainly am a fan of Kerr's Bernie Gunther thrillers, for me Downing builds a more plausible view of what it was like to live through desperate times.

(I see David Downing begins a new series of pre-WW1 espionage tales with his novel Jack of Spies to be published later this year.)
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Last One!, 15 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Masaryk Station (Kindle Edition)
This was the last of the brilliant John Russell series. If you havent read any of the others ...start at the beginning with Zoo Station (check!) and work through them...although the stories have been told before (see Sarah Gainham Night falls on the City for an actress getting through the war - in Vienna rather than Berlin) they are well written and keep you reading. I thought once the war ended the books after wouldnt be so interesting - but the cold war backdrop is very good and this one is more full of suspense than the others.
They had to stop somewhere......and here was a good place!!!!?????
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shame it's the last in the series, 12 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Masaryk Station (Kindle Edition)
Up there with the rest of the series, and I'll be sad to see the last of John and Effi. Maybe if we put enough pressure on Mr Downing, he will do another, after all, the ending gave me the impression that it's at least a possibility. Or maybe that's just wisful thinking on my part.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great read!, 18 July 2014
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This is a great story in the Deighton/Ambler mould, well researched, tautly written and gripping from first page to last. This, the sixth and last in the 'Station' series, is the first of David Downing's books to come my way and I am eager to read the first five. Downing has mastered the very difficult art of making a book which is part of a series not only coherently stand alone but be a first class read in its own right.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Have enjoyed all the 'Station' books by David Downing, 6 July 2014
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This review is from: Masaryk Station (John Russell 6) (Paperback)
Have enjoyed all the 'Station' books by David Downing, they are totally gripping and bring to life the era about which they were written. They're exciting, authentic and hold the readers interest throughout. I could hope Mr. Downing hasn't run out of Stations - would love to read more!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reading, 1 July 2014
By 
D. Cryle (warrington) - See all my reviews
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This is the first book by this author that I have read, and will order the rest as this is a real page turner.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Present, 24 Jan 2014
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I bought this as another stocking filler for my Husband, so far he has read all David Downing books in this series and he says he is one of the best writers he has read in a long time. They certainly keep "Hubby" quiet for a long time,
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5.0 out of 5 stars Super delivery, 27 Dec 2013
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Excellent service at busy time of the year. Book is great just the one my son required. Will use again
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4.0 out of 5 stars The End, 24 Nov 2013
By 
Ted Feit (Long Beach, NY USA) - See all my reviews
With this, the sixth novel in the John Russell series, David Downing brings to a finale the chronicle covering the years between the World Wars, those following the collapse of Nazi Germany. It has been quite a journey, with Russell having served as a double agent for both the Soviets and Americans, certainly as dangerous as an existence can be. Each of the novels reflected the times and the clashes of the ideological differences between the two countries.

In the final book, the story of a divided Germany and Berlin is recounted, ending with the seeds that were sown in the fall of the Soviet Empire. At the same time, the personal conflicts that beset Russell and others who at first embraced and then questioned socialism are explored and analyzed.

Each entry in the series was well-crafted to not only tell a gripping story of our times, but to call to mind the era as portrayed by real-life characters. It has been an excellently told saga. (It is unfortunate that the latest volume suffers from poor production, editing and proofreading, riddled with typographical and grammatical errors.) Next spring, we are promised a new series by the author moving back in time to World War I.

My parenthetical criticism notwithstanding, the novel is recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Worth it, 1 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Masaryk Station (Kindle Edition)
I had not read any other books by David Downing and it too me some pages to understand how it was unfolding and who was doing what. Having got that I enjoyed it a lot. It is a good spy story and an insight into the immediate post war years in Berlin.
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Masaryk Station (John Russell 6)
Masaryk Station (John Russell 6) by David Downing (Paperback - 7 Jan 2014)
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