Mark's Reviews > Zoo Station

Zoo Station by David Downing
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's review
Feb 26, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: mystery, thriller, fiction
Read from March 05 to 11, 2012

What a great find. I can't remember where I saw the recommendation on this, but if you like Nazi-era Europe, spies, tension and one small victory against the Holocaust, this is the book for you.

John Russell is a British journalist living in Berlin at the dawn of the Second World War, just after Chamberlain has made his appeasement speech and before Hitler has invaded Czechoslovakia. He is tied to Berlin not just by work, but by his son Paul, from a marriage now broken up, and his actress girlfriend Effi.

As a journalist, Russell long ago gave up crusades in return for paying work and writing features on such things as dueling commemorative stamps from Poland and Germany. But he is also a former Communist, and a member of the Party approaches him with offers of money for articles for Pravda, in return for sharing some information.

In the meantime, Russell also begins to tutor two Jewish girls in English as a favor to a friend in the British embassy.

Mix in the subplot of an American journalist who has found out a terrible Nazi secret and it's not hard to see that this is going to be a tense, unpredictable ride through prewar Germany.

No spoiler alerts here. You'll have to see if Russell and those near and dear to him survive. Let's just say it's a heart-thumper to the end.

One small criticism. Mr. Dowling could have gone a little easier on the itinerary descriptions, particularly of train stations and roadways around Berlin, but I guess he wanted to show off the thoroughness of his research. Good characters, dialogue and pacing, though.

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03/05/2012 page 6
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