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Silesian Station    by David Downing order for
Silesian Station
by David Downing
Order:  USA  Can
Soho, 2008 (2008)

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* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

In a brilliant follow-up to the superb Zoo Station, David Downing's unflinching vision of the horrors of Nazi Germany in 1939, the highly recommended Silesian Station rejoins newspaper journalist John Russell as he and his adolescent son Paul return to Berlin after an important visit to the United States.

On his way back to Germany, Russell learns that his movie-actress girlfriend Effi has been arrested by the Gestapo, and to secure her release, Russell makes a complicated bargain with Nazi authorities, agreeing to act as a covert double-agent even as he continues his affiliations with the Soviets.

At the same time, having made certain other commitments to family and friends, Russell involves himself in finding out what may have happened to two young women: one, seventeen-year-old Miriam Rosenfeld, has disappeared after traveling by train from Silesia to Berlin; the second, Freya Hahnemann, according to her wealthy German parents who emigrated to America, remained against their wishes in Berlin because of her Jewish fiancÚ Wilhelm Isendahl.

As Russell moves uneasily though effectively in his reluctant role within the world of espionage - a duplicitous role that is further complicated by his more important agreement to act as an agent for the Americans - and as he follows up on slender clues about what may have happened to Miriam and Freya, Russell runs into plenty of surprises and challenges. Most harrowing, though, are Russell's pulse-pounding encounters with the escalating instances of treachery, brutality, depravity, and horror that are becoming everyday occurrences in Germany and its neighboring countries.

But, of course, Russell and everyone else in Berlin and the rest of the world are on the brink of World War II, and already in the summer of 1939 there are virtually no limits to the social and political obscenities perpetrated on Germany and Eastern Europe by Hitler's diabolical Reich. Beyond being a first-rate espionage thriller and compelling character study, Silesian Station is a powerful, not-to-be-missed portrait of a frightened world on its way to 'ruins and more ruins,' a world caught up in the nightmarish grip of the personification of evil: Adolph Hitler.

As good as any espionage thriller ever written about Nazi Germany, Silesian Station is an absolute winner! Don't miss it!

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