Stettin Station, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


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The sign of a good series is that a new reader can pick up the latest one and not feel lost, while the faithful reader is not bored with long descriptions of events he has already witnessed. Stettin Station by David Downing is the third in a series of four books (so far) and I found it excellent, despite having never read the previous books.Historical fiction, and especially stories that take place in Hitler's Europe as this one does, often fall prey to several common pitfalls. One, the protagonist understands the long-term implications of current events or predicts with startling accuracy what will happen next. Another is the cardboard Nazi. People can be nuanced and complex creatures until they join the Nazi Party and become EEEEEVIL. And, finally, the tremendously noble hero. In contemporary thrillers the protagonist can be flawed, but when it comes to WWII, the main character is often altruistic to the point of idiocy, and that the author allows them to save beautiful Jewish girls from rapacious SS Officers on a regular basis while carrying important secret documents.Happily, Downing avoids all that. John Russell is an American of convenience, his British passport would no longer allow him to live and work in the Berlin of 1941. His connections and political sympathies lie far to the left and his only concern is getting his son, girlfriend and himself through the war and he's willing to do business with Nazis and to avoid helping the Americans to do so. He's not without principle and is trying to discover where the train loads of Jewish Berliners are going, but knowing who to trust and who is compromised is an impossible task.Downing weaves a complex story of conflicted loyalties in a vividly rendered wartime Berlin. I'm looking forward to reading the other books in this excellent series.

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