Book Review – Silesian Station by David Downing
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Second in the series, and it ends where I expected the first to end. It starts a few weeks on from where the previous book left off. In late July 1939 John Russell is returning to Germany from America by boat with his son.
Definitely an interesting read, Downing has clearly done his research well. There is a fantastic period feel to it. Especially the embuggerance around the travelling to and from Poland. The places and the people are very well described, and the latter are well observed and seem real. The danger in the air from unguarded comments is real for these characters, and they are mainly circumspect with strangers.
I was also pleased to see how Russell’s film star girlfriend develops too. She starts the story with a few days booked into the Gestapo‘s finest basement hotel. While this is a cynical manipulation by the Gestapo to put pressure on Russell it has a noticeable effect on Effi Koenen. Effi gets radicalised, and she becomes part of the plot in a more active way. This allows for a slightly wider perspective on events as well as more discussion between characters.
The action picks up a gear too as this book progresses. As well as the SD and the Soviets wanting Russell to work for them the Americans get in on the act too. Russell tries his best to skirt around all of it, pleasing those he cannot avoid and avoiding ending up in a nazi concentration camp. All the while he observes and reports on the changes within Germany. Towards the end he starts to get more involved in helping people to escape, his humanity won’t allow him to stand by and watch the Jews get persecuted.
The finale is pretty bloody, but the outbreak of war seems to overshadow the climax. I went straight into the third in the series off the back of it, and it skips forward two years.