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Stettin Station (John Russell #3)

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  1,023 ratings  ·  74 reviews
In the fall of 1941, Anglo-American journalist John Russell is still living in Berlin, tied to the increasingly alien city by his love for two Berliners: his fourteen-year-old son, Paul, and his longtime girlfriend, Effi. Forced to work for both German and American Intelligence, he's searching for a way out of Germany. Can he escape and take Effi with him?
ebook, 352 pages
Published May 1st 2010 by Soho Crime (first published September 1st 2009)
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For those looking for a detailed and evocative description of wartime Berlin, it would be hard to find a better way of getting insight into this time and period.

For those looking for a tight and taut plot that propells the narrative from beginning to end....not so much.

Given how carefully Downing catalogued every breakfast, lunch, dinner, break for tea, stop for cocktails, trip to a coffee shop and more it is not surprising that copious detail and attention are given the quality (poor) of the
Feb 01, 2015 Anna rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jan Z
This is the 3rd installment of John Russell's ongoing struggles. In this story he finds himself in an increasingly complicated situation. "In reality he had done nothing to help Nazi Germany and several things to impede it, but the number of people who could actually testify to that fact were decidedly thin on the ground. If all of them dropped dead before the war's end he would have some difficult explaining to do."

The story begins in the fall of 1941 when the Nazis are apparently about to take
Rob Kitchin
Stettin Station is the third book in the John Russell and Effi Koenen series. The strengths of the tale are the characterisation, sense of atmosphere and place, and the historicisation. Russell and Koenen are well realised and rounded characters and they are accompanied by a broad spectrum of nicely penned others, including journalists, administrators, various forms of police, family, friends and other citizens. Downing manages to nicely blend the everyday realities and complexities of living in ...more
“Stettin Station” continues the story of John Russell, a British/American journalist living in Berlin during WWII. While the last three books focused more on espionage and Russell’s involvement with the Nazi’s, the Americans, and the Russians, this book focuses more on the personal life of Russell and the events and decisions he has to make in order to survive. Once again David Downing’s writing is excellent and he is able to create such incredible tension and anxiety about this period in histor ...more
Robert Ronsson
It's number three and David Downing is into his stride. I gave three stars to the other two in the series and this one merits a four. We aren't subjected to as much regurgitated research as the earlier John Russell books and the number of meals we sit at table with John Russell for has diminished somewhat. Consequently, we have a tighter read with the tension ratcheting up as we approach the denouement. I'm a sucker for any tale that involves the adoption of false identities and I invested more ...more
Sonya L Moore
I just finished this, the third, in the series and am really enjoying them. They are quick, easy reads and are well written. What I like most is that they are set in Germany during WWII and give me the citizen's view of the war.
From Publishers Weekly
"Fans of the intelligent WWII thrillers of Alan Furst and Philip Kerr should enjoy Downing's atmospheric and tension-filled third novel featuring Anglo-American journalist John Russell (after Silesian Station). By November 1941, Russell has decided
Downing continues this fascinating series. His writing about Berlin prior to WWII and its aftermath is heartbreaking, but he puts just enough romance and humor into the story to make it readable, even through the dark settings.
Tom Hughes
Very atmospheric! and a genuine nail-biter. He tries too hard to share his knowledge of Berlin underground, tram and rail lines -- there's some unnecessary "he took the U-bahn and changed to the S-bahn" descriptions -- but since the whole series hinges on Berlin's train stations (Zoo StationZoo Station, Silesian, Station...), maybe this is just part of his offering.

If you like Alan FurstAlan Furst's books, the "Station" series is a close comparison.
In late 1941, Downing's hero, American journalist John Russell, lives a precarious existence in Berlin just before the US enters the war. He's involved with Communists, Jews, his German actress girlfriend, and even some Nazi officials. While cut off from real news about the war, he's slowly discovering Western companies' active trading with the Germans, as well as the truth about transfers of Jews to cities further East.
Downing handles all these tangled affairs very well, and continually shows u
This is number three in the John Russell series set against the backdrop of wartime Berlin. Two years have passed since the last book and life in Berlin has become more perilous than ever, especially for Russell whose Resistance activities have involved him with German, American and Soviet authorities. By far the most suspenseful of these books to date, this one has some hairbreadth escapes and lots of thrills. I look forward to the next installment.
By the way these novels MUST be read in order
It must be hard to write any kind of book, fiction or non fiction, set in or around Germany during the Second World War and not at some point come up against the situation of whether 'they’ knew about what was happening to the Jewish population. The ‘hero’ of David Downing’s wonderful ‘Station’ series (you really don’t have to read on any further now, do you? You can guess this is going to be (another) good review, eh?), John Russell has, as in the previous two books, both become aware of someth ...more
==A WW2 British-American journalist/spy thriller set in Berlin==
This is the third book in Downing’s wartime thrillers about British journalist/spy John Russell. I would recommend reading the first two books before this one since what happened before has a large bearing on what happens in the last quarter of this one. Having read first two, Zoo Station and Silesian Station, I was disappointed by the lack of intensity in the first half of Stettin Station but the last half more than makes up for la
Somehow this book did not quite convince me. In particular, did the Germans really lay narrow gauge railway all the way to Moscow? What are his sources? Maybe I just have reservations about using Hitler's Germany as a backdrop for a thriller. For me there are too many difficult issues connected with Hitler's Germany which deserve better treatment in literature than just to be 'scenery' for a thriller.

And then I went on to read books by Joseph Kanon, which just seemed far more thoughtful.
This book is a good addition to Downing's John Russell series. It has plenty of suspense to tempt a reader to keep turning pages well beyond midnight. The one sustained impression it leaves with me is the awful realization that events like these actually destroyed countless real lives. Yes, it seems the books' main characters survive, but many of the minor characters died like their real life counterparts. The narrative is fascinating and heartbreaking at the same time.
I debated giving this 5 stars not 4; it's an excellent book which describes some of the horrors of wartime Germany, including the personal horrors of individuals. The characters are very human - I won't give anything away but their guilt, sadness and anger at what happens is heartbreaking in places.
I didn't give the book the full 5 stars because the Kindle version I read was fairly badly edited, which spoilt the flow of the story. I was also a bit unsure of the way the narrative jumps between E
Ross Mckinney
This was a delightful read. To stereotype it: a well written WWII novel, written about a Brit posing as an American living in Berlin in the the Fall of 1941, just before Pearl Harbor. Lots of intrigue, lots of anxiety provoking moments, good characters who don't always do what you expect - in short, top level fluff. The history is fascinating, the story better than most, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I plan to read more of the series. Highly recommended if you enjoy the genre.
Phyllis Gauker
This was my second David Downing novel in the WWII genre and it was just as exciting as had been the first, Zoo Station. I look forward to reading more of them. Maybe it's because I have also been an expatriot, but they really ring true to me. My experience was not in Germany, and certainly not during a war. I'm too young to remember all the deprivations of WWII, but do remember a little. My parents always stressed how lucky we were to be safe in the US with almost no threat of war on our soil. ...more
I liked this third book much better than the second in this series, all named for different U-Bahn stops in the Berlin transit system. It is 1941, and wartime rationing and bombings by the British are taking their toll on daily life and the spirit of the citizens of this major German city. How long will John Russell be able to play off against each other the various governments and agencies that employ him? As the Germans continue to advance against Moscow, rumors escalate about the likelihood o ...more
Mary Warnement
Given how long I took to read this, one would guess it wasn't a quick read or that I didn't like it. But there were the holidays and I travelled. Like his other books in the series, this one ends leaving one wanting to start the next immediately. I won't spoil anyone's pleasure and give away anything. I'm glad I'm not reading as these were published; I need not wait. I'll probably check the next one out of the library but wait a little. I have others on deck. I'm reading Larson's non-fiction abo ...more
Gareth Evans
This the 3rd book in the 'station' series by David Downing. To my mind it's the best of the series so far. Like the other novels, there is much travelling around Betlin and further afield by public transport, some of the travel without a great deal of purpose. Nevertheless, it builds nicely - if not using all the elements - to a tense thriller. The setting of late 1941 gives the book some novelty, Berlin during the war is a much less frequently used as a location than in the immediate per-war. T ...more
Angel Serrano
En el momento de máxima expansión del Tercer Reich y con las tropas alemanas cercando Moscú, el ataque japonés en Pearl Harbour y el general invierno están a punto de cambiar las tornas. John Russell sobrevive como periodista extranjero en un Berlín gris y maloliente.
Myo Denis
Another in Downing's "Stations"-series of WWII espionage novels. The low-key hero, John Russell, is more of a Le Carré spy, i.e. a journalist who is a spy due to circumstances mostly beyond his control. There is only sporadic violence, something which I appreciate more as I get older.
A decent entry in the "Station" series, but much of it is largely indistinguishable from what's been offered in previous outings. In addition, there is very little in the way of significant plot development beyond slowly moving the protagonist and his long-time girlfriend toward the next big change in their lives, which occurs rather abruptly near the end of the book. Characterizations are good, however, and Downing does his usual good job with setting scenes and evoking war-torn Berlin, but for ...more
Roger Neilson
I found this really immersive - full of detail and 'feel' that had me transported to back to a very grim time. From the first lines I felt an unpleasantness and evil pervading the whole novel. gripping stuff, with some clever twists
Three more in the series, and I'm hooked! This installment was considerably more exciting than the last two--with the addition of several characters leading the Nazi resistance movement. At a critical point now needing to know what happens next...
Becky Motew
Three and a half stars.

Downing really knows his train stations! I love that part of this series and enjoy the travelogue aspect. As others have said, the plot is rather thin.

Christine Rebbert
This is Book #3 in a series of novels about American journalist John Russell living in Berlin before, and now during, World War II. He's a spy/counter-spy so there's all that kind of story, but also his relationship with famous-actress Effi and his now-Hitler Youth son. Of course, it touches on real history, some of which seemed new to me, so I'm anxious for Milt to finish reading it so I can ask him if a couple things really were true (he's way more of a WWII expert than me). The conclusion was ...more
V Reader
A very enjoyable series set in pre-war and wartime Berlin. The intricacies of plot, and atmosphere of pervasive intrigue and double-cross are always well done. Lead characters John Russell and Effi Koenen are intelligent but fallible; pitting their wits against the Nazi administration and war machine to give a very human picture of decent people trying to keep their eyes wide open and also get on with their lives in extraordinary and cruel times.
If you haven't read David Downing, start with Zoo
H.W. Bernard
Good book, something Alan Furst fans could savor. Well-developed characters and increasing tension. I was a little disappointed in the ending, however, in that it was like the Saturday Matinees I used to go to as a kid where the good guy was always left in a dire situation and you had to come back the following Saturday to see how things were resolved. (And then, of course, the hero was always left in deep doo-doo again and again and . . . .) In the case of Stettin Station, I guess I won't reall ...more
These continue to get better as they go along. By now the characters are deep and developed, the tension high, and history is closing in from all sides. I can't wait to start the next in the series...
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David Downing is the author of a political thriller, two alternative histories and a number of books on military and political history and other subjects as diverse as Neil Young and Russian Football.
More about David Downing...

Other Books in the Series

John Russell (6 books)
  • Zoo Station (John Russell, #1)
  • Silesian Station (John Russell, #2)
  • Potsdam Station (John Russell, #4)
  • Lehrter Station (John Russell, #5)
  • Masaryk Station (John Russell, #6)
Zoo Station (John Russell, #1) Silesian Station (John Russell, #2) Potsdam Station (John Russell, #4) Lehrter Station (John Russell, #5) Masaryk Station (John Russell, #6)

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