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Lehrter Station (John Russell #5)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,251 Ratings  ·  107 Reviews
Caught between Soviets and Americans, John Russell can't escape his role as an accidental spy

Book 5 in the John Russell historical thriller series.

It’s 1945, and British journalist John Russell has finally reunited with his German girlfriend, Effi, in London after a dangerous flight from war-torn Berlin. But Russell realizes his new life in England isn’t going to last when
Published May 8th 2012 by Soho Crime
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The war is over so wasn’t sure how this series would pan-out as to date the series has covered the pre-war rise of the Nazis to power as well as the war years. It becomes clear early on where the story is going as we’re launched into the espionage conflict of post-war Berlin with the uneasy alliance of Russia/America coming to the fore.

The stars John Russell & Effi Koenen (Yes the actress girlfriend gets equal star billing this story) return to Berlin 6 months after the war..... they only re
Jul 05, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one was tough. The book was definitely not the page turning read the others were, but somehow at the end I felt it was necessary more than enjoyable. It wrapped up several story lines that you might not even remember, but there was closure for all the characters John and Effie crossed in their paths. The problem was, that's really all it was, so it didn't flow like the other books did.

The only other problem with the book wasn't Downing's fault at all. The world is ugly, and full of distast
Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

When I spotted this at the library, I couldn't resist -- the latest in a series I fell in love with last year, about journalist/spy John Russell, living in Berlin before and after WWII.

In this book, the Nazis have been defeated, Berlin is a surreal landscape of rubble and occupying armies, and Russell and his girlfriend Effi have returned from exile in London, because the Soviets have their hooks into him for work he did for them previously, and they want him back in the city for work as a doubl
Aug 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The fifth “John Russell” novel picks up roughly six months after the end of POTSDAM STATION. Back in Berlin after escaping the final conflagration of the Third Reich, journalist John Russell once again is a reluctant spy whose allegiances would seem mixed—the Soviets, Americans, British and Germans all have a claim on him—except that his only true commitment is to his girlfriend Effi, his son & extended family. (My kind of guy!) Post-war Berlin is divided not just into zones held by the war’ ...more
May 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It goes without saying that this is (another) beautifully written paced and structured, evocative, sometimes provocative, story from David Downing. All his books in the ‘Station’ series have been. I’m not quite sure how he’s done it - maintain such a high standard of writing and story-telling over six novels (yes, I’ve finished the sixth now, though this is number five). Maybe he wrote them all at one sitting and then divided it all into six parts. Who knows how he’s done it, they’re all uniform ...more
Gloria Feit
Jul 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Five months after the fall of Berlin, this chronicle of the adventures of John Russell, the Anglo-American journalist, and his paramour, Efffi Koene, the actress, continues. Four previous “Station” novels carried them through the pre-war years in Berlin to Russell’s escape to England. Now, his former Russian spymaster sort of blackmails him into returning to Berlin as a spy for both the Reds and the Americans. To sugarcoat the request, Effi is offered a starring role in a soon-to-be-made motion ...more
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am on a semi-constant quest for literate, historically accurate World War II espionage novels, a la Alan Furst. They are devilishly difficult to find. Thus, I was excited to discover David Downing. I seem to have started the series with the most recent book, but I'm hooked and am looking forward to going back to the first one and reading them in order.

Downing's hero, John Russell, is a British reporter with American citizenship. This novel starts in London, but most of it takes place in immedi
May 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always enjoyed this series of novels but as the setting moves into the post-war period, I wonder if there is a sense that the characters thoughts reflect a modern interpretation rather than a contemporary perspective.
Oct 07, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anna by: series
At this point I have stopped trying to understand John and his motivations; I am strictly reading to find out what happens to Effi and Rosa and Paul.

1 more book in this series

INTRODUCTION: Together with Alan Furst's historical novels about the immediate pre-WW 2 period, David Downing's John Russell novels which start on New Year's day 1939 in Zoo Station and so far cover the period up to New Year's Day 1946 at the end of Lehrter Station are big favorites that combine superb historical fiction - atmosphere, characters - with a dash of intrigue and action. Here is the blurb and more about it below.

"Paris, November 1945. John Russell is walking home along the banks of t
Jun 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww-ii
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rogue Reader
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-germany
Downing's John Russell series is outstanding. The protag is fearful and courageous, inventive and clever living a double life. Realistic and awful narrative of post-war Berlin and allied treatment of German citizens, none who would admit to corruption or participation in the Nazi crimes. Must have been nearly impossible to walk some sort of fair line, to be human in Berlin in the aftermath of that horrendous war.
Robert Scott
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
*** Chaotic conditions in Berlin defines the aftermath of WWII ***

This 5th of Downing’s ‘Station’ WWII crime/thriller/spy series, follows closely the events of the 4th book, Potsdam Station. The time period is June to December 1945. The allies have divided Berlin, Germany, Vienna and Austria into four areas of control. The western and eastern borders of Poland have been shifted, dislocating Germans and Poles. Jews find themselves unwanted and unwelcome in most countries; their exodus to Palestin
Sep 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Getting easier to follow and am curious as to what comes next.
Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
This is a fascinating portrait of a society crawling out of chaos. It's not just the buildings and bridges that are reduced to rubble and ruins in post-war Berlin. The Americans are playing all sorts of games, some of them aligning themselves to ex-Nazis and the black market in order to fight the invisible war against the Soviets, whilst others appear to be totally unaware of what life was really like under Hitler's regime. The British are imperialists hanging desperately onto power, the stern t ...more
Paulo Migliacci
Dec 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Downing writes plausible thrillers - something most people won't take as the warmest of compliments, but in this case it certainly is. John Russell, the main character in Downing's 'Lehrter Station' and his four preceding WW2-era novels, is pushing 50 in the most recent installment of the series, and has led a dangerous life as a foreign correspondent in Nazi Germany before the war; from 1939 on, he ends up involved with spy agencies galore - American, British, German, Soviet -, but he is ...more
Nov 07, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fifth in this series, that has taken our cast of characters from before WW II, through WW II, and now we enter the post-war period. As always, our central focus is what plays out in the grand old city of Berlin, though to give depth and insight to that understanding characters can and will move throughout Europe.

John Russell and his Russian counterpart Shchepkin have both managed to survive all the multilayered espionage and the war itself, and now they find themselves doing a new variant of the
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It’s hard to say I disliked this book, but “disappointed” is accurate. Each book in this series was better than the last, until now, and for a number of reasons. One, with Effi and John returning to post-war Berlin, the book went far out of its way to have them cross paths with pretty much every side character they ever met in the previous books, over and over, to the point where it felt silly and predictable. It just didn’t feel realistic. Along with too many run-ins, there were too many thread ...more
Sep 21, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was certainly not as page turning as the previous books in this series. The plot goes in many different directions and gets confusing. The book reintroduces many previous characters, but so many at one time is confusing and it's difficult to keep them straight. However, this book does put some closure on those characters and their fate.

Also, Mr. Downing has a serious issue with Americans, but his portrayal of ordinary Germans is a bit heroic. Apparently they all opposed Hitler and the
Feb 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Lehrter Station is David Downing’s fifth book in his John Russell series, all named after railroad stations in Berlin which each has a special significance to the story.

Set against the devastation of Berlin in 1945, Lehrter Station is a spy story whose characters struggle to reclaim their lives after World War II. The city has been divided into British, American, French and Soviet sectors, and it is becoming clear that the lines are being redrawn with the Soviet Union as the new enemy for the We
Cheryl A
In this latest installment, the war is over and we find John Russell - British journalist, American citizen, former Communist - safe with his extended family in London. Russell and his girlfriend Effi are having a hard time adjusting to life outside of Germany, but are glad to be safe.

This safety comes with a price and Russell is contacted by Soviet agent Shchepkin, who lets Russell know that the bill is due. The Soviets want Russell to offer himself as a double agent to the Americans and delive
May 08, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have now read five of David Downing's series on John Russell, the Soviet-American spy. In fact I found the books conveyed the atmosphere of Berlin, before, during and after the war rather well. Its is an ambitious series and, rather like Philip Kerr's Bernie Guenther books, there are better constructed tales. I found the penultimate book on Berlin in 1945 the best: the secondary characters notably Russell's son Paul, were well developed. The battle for Berlin is depicted in parts seemingly ins ...more
Sep 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lehrter Station (John Russell, #5) by David Dowling. I really liked this book. It's the first David Downing book I've read and it won't be the last. John Russell is the key character and his other half, Effi is a German actress who also insisted he leave when the going got rough and unsteady with the Nazi's in power. They were reunited after the war when he came back, hopefully to find some journalism work as well as reunite with the least for the time being. 'Nuff said about the plo ...more
James Kemp
With the fifth in the series we're in the immediate post-war period, six months after Berlin fell to the Soviets John & Effi are back. Having escaped to London with the surviving family members John is blackmailed by the Soviets into returning in the guise of a double agent.

As with the previous books the real central character is Berlin and its people. The theme is one of devastation, both human and physical. John & Effi both get involved in finding out what happened to people they knew
Nov 01, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very disappointing. This is the least enjoyable of the Station series so far and I think it is because it lacks the central political backdrop of the previous novels - ie it is set just post the demise of Hitler and the Nazi party as Stalin and the Americans divide up Berlin, Germany and the rest of Europe. Individual Nazis are still skulking around trying to evade justice, but this book is more about the start of Soviet/US Cold War espionage and that is an era in history I don't find that inter ...more
I didn't enjoy this book as much as the others, perhaps because the plot line seemed to meander quite a bit. There were a lot of reunions with various characters from previous books, with almost too many threads to follow. John Russell is again a pawn between competing spy agencies, and has become somewhat desensitized to death and killing, if it means his survival.

However, I appreciated the setting of this book. It provided a realistic depiction of life in an occupied post-war, pre-wall Berlin.
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The fifth in the John Russell series, this one takes place in postwar Berlin. The author's attention to detail is amazing down to the description of ruined buildings, stores or cafes that have been closed or opened etc. also he gives us more than we can bear in terms of geography, identifying each route that the main characters take to get to their next meeting. I could have done with less of this! However the plot moves along nicely as Russell and his girlfriend Effi search for missing Jews, ge ...more
Robert Ronsson
Like other reviewers I found this book hard to follow because Downing re-introduces so many characters from previous books and seems intent on sealing their fates one way or the other. It gives the impression that he's 'clearing the decks' in preparation for a metamorphosis of the series as we move from WWII into the Cold War.
There are hints of this when Russell is warned by his Russian 'controller' to ensure that his American 'controller' (yes, we're in double-agent territory) doesn't share inf
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Although the first few were excellent, it's getting harder and harder to like these books. (It's unfortunate how frequently this happens with authors who are successful with one book, and then feel they have to go on milking the franchise even when there is little left to tell.) In Lehrter Station, Mr. Downing continues with his main characters, John Russell and his girlfriend Effi, and with his fascination with being very specific about the locations and streets visited by them. Beyond the geo ...more
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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)
  • Stettin Station (John Russell, #3)
  • Potsdam Station (John Russell, #4)
  • Masaryk Station (John Russell, #6)

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