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Zoo Station    by David Downing order for
Zoo Station
by David Downing
Order:  USA  Can
Soho, 2008 (2007)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Here is an absolutely first-rate espionage thriller for fans of historical suspense novels. When readers join the action of Zoo Station, Nazi Germany is on the eve of war, and British-American journalist John Russell is about to become involved in a situation that will severely test his moral principles and his survival skills.

Approached by the Russians in early 1939 to write a series of articles about everyday German life, the Berlin-based Russell cannot pass up the lucrative opportunity, though he wisely has reservations about the level of his commitment to the Russians. At the same time, as a condition of his permission to continue working as a journalist in Berlin, the Nazi officials announce that they must preview and approve each of Russell's articles before it is dispatched; there is, though, another troublesome condition to the Nazi oversight: Russell must also fully apprise the Germans of whatever he discovers about the level and purpose of Russian interest and the potential for Russian threats to the Reich.

Caught in the middle and full of misgivings, Russell nevertheless goes ahead with playing out his commitments to the Russians and the Germans. However, a complicated situation becomes even more complex when an American journalist tells Russell about a sinister Nazi plan that would call for the mercy killing of more than 100,000 incurables within the Reich. And - at the same time - Russell finds himself drawn into helping a Jewish family whose future survival is doubtful. Walking a dangerously taut tightrope, and knowing that any misstep will almost certainly lead to failure and death for himself and others, Russell must find a way of doing the right thing but at the same time also protect his German girlfriend and son.

Zoo Station is a terrifying wartime thriller that I am recommending to everyone! As a top-notch tale of an ordinary man living in extraordinary times, David Downing's Zoo Station is a powerful rendering of one of histories most horrible periods and Nazi Germany's shocking capacity for evil. Zoo Station is, quite simply, an absolute must read.

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