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Zoo Station (John Russell World War II Spy Thriller #1)
 
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Zoo Station (John Russell World War II Spy Thriller #1) [Format Kindle]

David Downing
3.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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Descriptions du produit

Extrait

THERE WERE TWO HOURS left of 1938. In Danzig it had been
snowing on and off all day, and a gang of children was enjoying a snowball
fight in front of the grain warehouses which lined the old waterfront.
John Russell paused to watch them for a few moments, then
walked on up the cobbled street toward the blue and yellow lights.

The Sweden Bar was far from crowded, and those few faces that
turned his way weren’t exactly brimming over with festive spirit. In fact,
most of them looked like they’d rather be somewhere else.

It was an easy thing to want. The Christmas decorations hadn’t
been removed, just allowed to drop, and they now formed part of the
flooring, along with patches of melting slush, floating cigarette butts,
and the odd broken bottle. The bar was famous for the savagery of its
international brawls, but on this particular night the various groups of
Swedes, Finns, and Letts seemed devoid of the energy needed to get
one started. Usually a table or two of German naval ratings could be
relied upon to provide the necessary spark, but the only Germans
present were a couple of aging prostitutes, and they were getting
ready to leave.

Russell took a stool at the bar, bought himself a Goldwasser, and
glanced through the month-old copy of the New York Herald Tribune
which, for some inexplicable reason, was lying there. One of his own
articles was in it, a piece on German attitudes to their pets. It was
accompanied by a cute-looking photograph of a Schnauzer.

Seeing him reading, a solitary Swede two stools down asked him, in
perfect English, if he spoke that language. Russell admitted that he did.

“You are English!” the Swede exclaimed, and shifted his considerable
bulk to the stool adjoining Russell’s.

Their conversation went from friendly to sentimental, and sentimental
to maudlin, at what seemed like a breakneck pace. Three
Goldwassers later, the Swede was telling him that he, Lars, was not the
true father of his children. Vibeke had never admitted it, but he knew
it to be true.

Russell gave him an encouraging pat on the shoulder, and Lars
sunk forward, his head making a dull clunk as it hit the polished surface
of the bar. “Happy New Year,” Russell murmured. He shifted the
Swede’s head slightly to ease the man’s breathing, and got up to leave.

Outside, the sky was beginning to clear, the air almost cold enough
to sober him up. An organ was playing in the Protestant Seamen’s
Church, nothing hymnal, just a slow lament, as if the organist were saying
a personal farewell to the year gone by. It was a quarter to midnight.

Russell walked back across the city, conscious of the moisture seeping
in through the holes in his shoes. There were lots of couples on
Langer Markt, laughing and squealing as they clutched each other for
balance on the slippery sidewalks.

He cut over to Breite Gasse and reached the Holz-Markt just as the
bells began pealing in the New Year. The square was full of celebrating
people, and an insistent hand pulled him into a circle of revelers
dancing and singing in the snow. When the song ended and the circle
broke up, the Polish girl on his left reached up and brushed her lips
against his, eyes shining with happiness. It was, he thought, a betterthan-
expected opening to 1939.


HIS HOTEL'S RECEPTION AREA was deserted, and the sounds of
celebration emanating from the kitchen at the back suggested the
night staff were enjoying their own private party. Russell gave up the
idea of making himself a hot chocolate while his shoes dried in one of
the ovens, and took his key. He clambered up the stairs to the third floor,
and trundled down the corridor to his room. Closing the door behind
him, he became painfully aware that the occupants of the neighboring
rooms were still welcoming in the new year, loud singing on one side,
floor-shaking sex on the other. He took off his shoes and socks, dried his
wet feet with a towel, and sank back onto the vibrating bed.

There was a discreet, barely audible tap on his door.

Cursing, he levered himself off the bed and pulled the door open.
A man in a crumpled suit and open shirt stared back at him.

“Mr. John Russell,” the man said in English, as if he were introducing
Russell to himself. The Russian accent was slight, but unmistakable.

“Could I talk with you for a few minutes?”

“It’s a bit late . . .” Russell began. The man’s face was vaguely familiar.
“But why not?” he continued, as the singers next door reached for
a new and louder chorus. “A journalist should never turn down a conversation,”
he murmured, mostly to himself, as he let the man in.
“Take the chair,” he suggested.

His visitor sat back and crossed one leg over the other, hitching up his
trouser as he did so. “We have met before,” he said. “A long time ago.
My name is Shchepkin. Yevgeny Grigorovich Shchepkin. We. . . .”

“Yes,” Russell interrupted, as the memory clicked into place. “The
discussion group on journalism at the Fifth Congress. The summer of
twenty-four.”

Shchepkin nodded his acknowledgment. “I remember your contributions,”
he said. “Full of passion,” he added, his eyes circling the room
and resting, for a few seconds, on his host’s dilapidated shoes.

Russell perched himself on the edge of the bed. “As you said—a
long time ago.” He and Ilse had met at that conference and set in
motion their ten year cycle of marriage, parenthood, separation, and
divorce. Shchepkin’s hair had been black and wavy in 1924; now it was
a close-cropped gray. They were both a little older than the century,
Russell guessed, and Shchepkin was wearing pretty well, considering
what he’d probably been through the last fifteen years. He had a
handsome face of indeterminate nationality, with deep brown eyes
above prominent slanting cheekbones, an aquiline nose, and lips just
the full side of perfect. He could have passed for a citizen of most
European countries, and probably had.

The Russian completed his survey of the room. “This is a dreadful
hotel,” he said.

Russell laughed. “Is that what you wanted to talk about?”

“No. Of course not.”

“So what are you here for?”

“Ah.” Shchepkin hitched his trouser again. “I am here to offer you
work.”

Russell raised an eyebrow. “You? Who exactly do you represent?”

The Russian shrugged. “My country. The Writer’s Union. It doesn’t
matter. You will be working for us. You know who we are.”

“No,” Russell said. “I mean, no I’m not interested. I—”

“Don’t be so hasty,” Shchepkin said. “Hear me out. We aren’t asking
you to do anything which your German hosts could object to.” The
Russian allowed himself a smile. “Let me tell you exactly what we have
in mind. We want a series of articles about positive aspects of the Nazi
regime.” He paused for a few seconds, waiting in vain for Russell to
demand an explanation. “You are not German but you live in Berlin,”
Shchepkin went on. “You once had a reputation as a journalist of the
left, and though that reputation has—shall we say—faded, no one
could accuse you of being an apologist for the Nazis . . .”

“But you want me to be just that.”

“No, no. We want positive aspects, not a positive picture overall.
That would not be believable.”

Russell was curious in spite of himself. Or because of the Goldwassers.
“Do you just need my name on these articles?” he asked. “Or
do you want me to write them as well?”

“Oh, we want you to write them. We like your style—all that irony.”
Russell shook his head: Stalin and irony didn’t seem like much of a
match.

Shchepkin misread the gesture. “Look,” he said, “let me put all my
cards on the table.”

Russell grinned.

Shchepkin offered a wry smile in return. “Well, most of them anyway.
Look, we are aware of your situation. You have a German son and
a German lady-friend, and you want to stay in Germany if you possibly
can. Of course if a war breaks out you will have to leave, or else they
will intern you. But until that moment comes—and maybe it won’t—
miracles do happen—until it does you want to earn your living as a
journalist without upsetting your hosts. What better way than this? You
write nice things about the Nazis—not too nice, of course; it has to be
credible—but you stress their good side.”

“Does shit have a good side?” Russell wondered out loud.

“Come, come,” Shchepkin insisted, “you know better than that.
Unemployment eliminated, a renewed sense of community, healthy
children, cruises for workers, cars for the people. . . .”

“You should work for Joe Goebbels.”

Shchepkin gave him a mock-reproachful look.

“Okay,” Russell said, “I take your point. Let me ask you a question.
There’s only one reason you’d want that sort of article: You’re softening
up your own people for some sort of deal with the devil. Right?”

Shchepkin flexed his shoulders in an eloquent shrug.

“Why?”

The Russian grunted. “Why deal with the devil? I don’t know what
the leadership is thinking. But I could make an educated guess and so
could you.”<br...

From Publishers Weekly

Set in pre-WWII Berlin, Downing's fine new thriller introduces a clever and honorable hero, British journalist John Russell, who has spent 15 years working in Germany. Despite finding the Nazis despicable and war inevitable, Russell wants to remain in Germany to be near his girlfriend, beautiful actress Effi Koenen, and his son, Paul, from whose mother he's divorced. A mysterious Russian hires Russell to write a series of articles praising Nazi achievements, and though he finds this work odious, he figures out a way to make the job palatable by involving the British consulate and their chief intelligence officer. He's drawn increasingly deeper into the espionage web of not only the Russians and British but also the Germans. How he extricates himself from all three and gets revenge on the Nazis will have readers holding their breath. Fortunately, the satisfying ending suggests Downing (The Moscow Option) will bring Russell back in a sequel. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 506 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 321 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 1569479712
  • Editeur : Soho Crime (1 mai 2007)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B004HYHB48
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 3.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°22.392 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Commentaires client les plus utiles
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Zoo Station 25 janvier 2014
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
The atmosphere in Berlin shortly before the war is very well written and, I believe, is authentic. The suspense is compelling.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 étoiles sur 5  162 commentaires
82 internautes sur 86 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 3 1/2 Stars - A Well-Written, Well-Researched "Quiet" Thriller! 23 juin 2007
Par Bobbewig - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
As Europe is on the brink of war in 1939, Anglo-American journalist and longtime Berlin resident, John Russell, wants to stay in Germany to be near his German son and his actress-girlfriend. Russell can't resist an offer from an old acquaintance from his "communist" days do some work for the Soviets. Soon after, the Nazi and British intelligence services learn of Russell's involvement with the Soviets, and he is made to do some work for them as well. Downing is an excellent writer, with particular strength in the areas of character development, creating a highly realistic sense of atmosphere of what life was like in pre-WWII Nazi Germany and in weaving the extensive research he did into Zoo Station's storyline. I enjoyed reading Zoo Station for these reasons. However, as a book positioned as a thriller, Zoo Station succeeds in creating slow-building tension, but, for me, did not provide "thrills." That is, there were no action-oriented or suspenseful passages in the story that kept me on the edge of my seat or that made me to put everything else in my life aside in order to keep turning the pages in Zoo Station. If you decide to read Zoo Station -- and it IS worth reading -- be prepared for a more passive, "quiet" type of thriller.
90 internautes sur 99 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 ZOO STATION A WONDERFUL PRE- WWII SPY THRILLER BY AUTHOR DAVID DOWNING 2 mai 2007
Par Andrea Bowhill - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Set in Germany Pre WWII, Englishman John Russell was working as a free lance journalist he had already been a long term resident for fifteen years and given that reason had been granted a full accreditation from the Ministry of Propaganda in Berlin. Unlike many of his press corp. colleagues who were now eager to get out, Russell wished to remain in Reich for as long as possible. Most importantly to be with his eleven year old son Paul by his German ex-wife; who lived else where in the city and secondly to stay near his current girlfriend Effi, a beautiful German actress.

New Year's Day 1939 in the early hours, Russell had been approached by an Old Russian communist acquaintance named Shchepkin. He wished to hire Russell's writing skills and make him an offer for extra money with a plan guaranteed to let Russell remain as long as possible in Germany. But this plan of course had more a return favour attached, secret spy work for the Soviets; his cover would be to write positive aspect articles of Nazi achievements for the Russian Newspapers.

Russell had doubts could he trust his old friend or had things changed between them as many years had passed. Russell already found Nazi lives despicable; Geobbles latest Speech on the vibrancy of modern German Culture could not cover the true Nazi reality, Russell already believed war was on its way. Then during early January 1939 the Nazis had brought out more anti-Jewish laws making it so hard now for any to leave. Being a spy didn't seem so unappealing a forced decision was finally made from threats and certain financial needs, but the web of espionage was bigger than he ever anticipated. Russell finds himself caught up in a plot to fight German tactics; a spy for the Russian's and then for the British as for Russell he was just trying to survive all dangers thrown his way these were uncertain times.

This would be my first novel by David Downing and it's a wonderful piece of fiction a quiet spy thriller. Four stars; deducting one because I felt some things were a little bit to convenient for Russell in places. Overall it remains an incredibly well written piece and very well researched. Detailed news stories just months before the war which are mentioned in passing, giving it authenticity. Downing has also kept to the boundaries of historical possibility in writing this and successful shows the pre war glitter and darkness of Berlin on the eve of WWII. Characterisations are shown very strong throughout; Russell and Effi both characters are well written Russell is loaded to the brim cynically but remains likeable. What I thought was fantastic was the conversations between Russell and other Foreign Correspondents, full of insightfulness; with lots of witty comments thrown in.

This first book was certainly written to lead you into the next, congratulations David Downing, I will be moving onto the second in the series Silesian Station.

Highly Recommended.

Andrea Bowhill
20 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 As satisfying as 'life in the Third Reich' could be 31 mai 2009
Par AMK - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Mr. Downing is to be congratulated on creating a seamless world in which his characters do what they can to get through the day while the universe seems to be going progressively out of kilter. As someone who has studied Berlin between 1933-45, I appreciated the manner in which he has taken the ideologies that we think we know and translated them in to a narrative of everyday shortage, minor terrors and moral lapses.

A couple of things to engage with other reviews. First, if you think that 'nothing happens' after finishing this, then you have been watching the Bourne Trilogy too much. There are no explosions and of course no fancy digital technologies. There are though beatings, there is espionage, there is even a fair amount of sex. If the sense of anxiety and decay doesn't get under your fingernails, then you are robotic.

Second, the characters are meaningful and interestingly complex. It is a pleasant change to encounter a main lead who is not 1. a spy by profession [Alan Furst] or 2. a hard bitten cop [Phillip Kerr]. Russell is a journalist, a father and somewhat of a marginal man with multiple nationalities. As such, I'd say he is an original character and I'm looking forward to seeing where his efforts to stay alive take him.
21 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Worth Reading 25 juillet 2010
Par Glenn Koch - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
I never quite understand why so many reviewers on these Amazon book pages are so harshly negative when posting a review. That especially seems to be the case with a number of the reviews of this book, and frankly, I really don't understand why? Does no one actually read anymore just for the pure sake of entertainment? I'm beginning to feel like I am the last one who does.

With that said, I enjoyed this book tremendously. It was very engaging, very descriptive, and quite suspenseful. I found the characters to be believable and actually found myself enjoying them. I've enjoyed them so much so that I ended up purchasing the two sequels to the book (both of which I read in quick sucession, and enjoyed equally as much) and have just acquired from Amazon UK the fourth installment because I couldn't wait for it to come out in the US. And in all honesty, some of the other books of this genre and period that other readers rave about, I found entirely lackluster... enjoyable reading for entertainment's sake, but nowhere near as engaging as these books. If you liked this book, give Rebecca Cantrell's "A Trace of Smoke" a try too.
28 internautes sur 32 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 readable and atmospheric 5 août 2008
Par Spitfire - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I found this to be a readable page-turner. Although it is not up there with the best of Furst, Silva, et.al., it is literate, full of interesting characters, and depicts the atmosphere of the Nazi period in Berlin. I thought the Russell character could have been better developed, especially the politics involved between father and son. The depiction of how young people were socialized in Hitler's Germany was fascinating but I thought that more could have been made of Russell's reactions to his son's education. That said, I very much enjoyed reading this and will read the sequel.
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