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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 6 April 2008
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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VINE VOICEon 24 February 2009
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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on 20 March 2017
While the pace of the story telling is relatively slow, this novel really builds an atmosphere and vivid descriptions that I found really engaging. The author builds the characterisation further from the first book. Will certainly go on to read more of these.
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on 28 October 2013
This is the second in the 'station' books. I really enjoyed this one as I felt I knew the characters better. You don't need to have read the first to enjoy this. Good story line. Will look forward to the next.
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VINE VOICEon 5 April 2011
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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on 3 November 2008
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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on 12 December 2009
...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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VINE VOICEon 9 September 2010
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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on 1 September 2013
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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on 22 December 2009
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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