Sunday, April 25, 2010

David Downing, STETTIN STATION: new from Soho Press

Did you purchase the British first edition of Stieg Larsson's third book, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest  -- because you couldn't wait for the later U.S. printing of the final book of the series?

Get that UK purchasing system ready for action, because David Downing's newly released book STETTIN STATION is likely to push you in that direction again.

The third in his sequence set in Nazi Germany and featuring Anglo-American journalist John Russell, this book is already being compared -- inevitably -- with Alan Furst's crime fiction summoning the dark clouds of Europe in the 1930s and the crackle and threat of the oncoming storm of war. To the extent that anything related to World War II becomes part of this genre, yes, Downing's ZOO STATION, SILESIAN STATION, and now STETTIN STATION can sit on the same shelf.

Yet the differences are more significant. Furst amasses detail and stands at a short but tense distance from his characters; Downing instead nests within them, one hand resting on John Russell's heart, the other dangling in the coldly seething mess of fears and resentment tapped so well by Adolf Hitler.

A journalist still being allowed, within the censors' scissors, to post reports back to America and England, John Russell walks a depressing route between increasing awareness of what's happening to the Jews, and inability to write about it for his readers because of the political iron fists around him. His longtime girlfriend Effi, a German movie star, lives under increasing risk because of Russell's position and her own clear-sighted awareness of Hitler's Reich. And raising the risks further for John, his son Paul has mixed feelings about him, and can be threatened by the intelligence forces that maneuver Russell's actions.

Twists of plot, emotional verity, and of course the reader's awareness of what's ahead in the larger sense increase the tension and the compulsion to turn the pages in STETTIN STATION. Downing lays out a vivid and pounding tale, and Russell's situation at the end is nearly unbearable.

And that's why the desire to snag the fourth in this series, POTSDAM STATION, may overwhelm many readers. It's scheduled for UK release in July from Old Street Publishing.

A final note about release dates: Soho Press officially releases STETTIN STATION for May 1, but the book is already available through online dealers. Grab it now, and you'll have time to decide whether to undertake an international route to the sequel.

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