Friday, May 18, 2012

Joyful News: David Downing's Fifth Berlin Thriller Is Available Now!

Want to know the downside of being a bookseller at Kingdom Books? Here it is: The books we love the most, that are really, really well written, are the ones we talk about enthusiastically with collectors and readers who stop in - and as a result, we keep selling them off the shelf!

That's been the case for every one of David Downing's John Russell novels. Set (mostly) in Berlin, as World War II and its close aftermath unfold, they feature British journalist John Russell and his family: his somewhat estranged teenage son living with Russell's divorces wife; his creative and strong-minded lover, Effi, an actress forced to work for Hilter's propaganda machine, while secretly fostering a Jewish child and helping Jews to escape almost certain death; and most of all, the city of Berlin itself, beloved by Russell and Effi and their friends, but occupied, bombed, shattered, dangerous -- and somehow inescapable, no matter how much safer John Russell would be if he stayed back in England or even Russia, where his travels at one point take him.

LEHRTER STATION opens with an ominous scene from December 1943, then leaps forward into 1945, as Russell discovers that the rash trades he's made during the war, in order to secure the safety of his family members, now require payment -- in a set of obligations that force him into espionage in the most distasteful ways. Effi too is caught in the pinch of threats from international spy forces, end-of-war trade-offs, and the need to track the surviving remaining parent of the child she's taken to her heart. As organized crime enters the picture, thirsting for the spoils of war, Russell and Effi find increasing threats to their safety, their family members, and their honor.

Powerfully and skillfully written, with constant suspense and sudden surprises of satisfaction, LEHRTER STATION is one of the vital 2012 books that I'd pack for a desert island -- or a beach vacation, or a rainy weekend.

Do you need to read the other David Downing John Russell novels first? Well, not exactly ... but it will add a lot of depth and resonance, so I'd recommend it. Look at the bright side: If Downing is new to you, you'll have five rainy-weekend delights ahead of you. And if you already have his earlier titles -- Zoo Station, Silesian Station, Stettin Station, and Potsdam Station -- now you can re-read and refresh before you cruise into this fifth and possibly final in the series. Or will John Russell rise in new ways, with the new Berlin? I wonder.

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