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John Russell Books In Order

Publication Order of John Russell Books

Zoo Station (2007) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Silesian Station (2008) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Stettin Station (2009) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Potsdam Station (2010) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Lehrter Station (2012) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Masaryk Station (2013) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

A contemporary British author who largely focuses on the spy and thriller genres, the novelist David Downing has been writing for a number of years now. Creating a whole backlog of work he has managed to take the genre forwards in new and interesting directions over the course of his career. With a keen eye for historical accuracy too, many of his series and titles are set in the past, evoking a sense of the period and time well. One series that he’s particularly well known for is his ongoing ‘John Russell’ franchise of novels, that charts the career of the eponymous journalist turned amateur spy. Set in 1939 it sees him in Germany, Berlin, during the height of the Nazi Party’s rise to power, as he does everything in his power to put a stop to this. An exciting set of novels, they carry on at a suspense filled pace, with action and tension along the way, keeping the reader on the edge-of-their-seats throughout.

Running for over six novels so far and counting, the series has come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. Providing a sense of adventure and excitement, they have a lot of life in them, providing a side that’s not usually seen, travelling to the heart of wartime Berlin. These titles will continue to live on for some time to come, as many more readers will come from far and wide due to it universal and ever enduring appeal.

Zoo Station

Initially brought out through the ‘Soho Press’ publishing house, this was to be the first book in the ongoing John Russell series of novels. Brought out on the 1st of May 2007, it manages to set a lot of the action up creating and establishing the world that it’s going to be taking place within. Not only that, but it provides a first adventure for the British journalist to get involved in, thus introducing him for the first time.

With these novels being period pieces they manage to convey their era well, as David Downing really has an understanding of it. Placing it firmly within the realms of the espionage genre it fully grasps where it is headed, without any confusion along the way. Downing is an astute writer with a lot of grand ideas, many of which he is able to put into his work without them becoming overbearing. The city of Berlin itself is also brilliantly realized, as it comes to life for the reader, establishing the format and style of the story. Many readers will be aware of the time period, but this takes them into the typically unseen aspects of the time. Painting a vivid and highly detailed portrait of the city it brings it to life, allowing the reader to feel like they are really there. The characters themselves are also well drawn, although are difficult to read at first, as is the case with espionage novels. This is something that Downing knows only too well, as he manages to create a keen sense of paranoia surrounding them. In the centre of all this, though, is the leading protagonist of John Russell, an astute individual who must struggle to keep his head above water.

After having spent almost fifteen years in Berlin the journalist John Russell is now there in 1939, as the Nazi party has risen to power. Writing light-hearted human interest stories mostly in order to avoid deportation, he spends most of his time with his son and girlfriend. Now with the onset of war he is going to be put to the test, as he finds himself getting involved with foreign intelligence, along with helping a Jewish family to avoid detection. Will he be able to look after his family? Can he get intelligence out of the country safely? What will occur at Zoo Station?

Silesian Station

Originally published in 2008 on the 1st of May, this was first brought out through the Soho press publishing label. Following on from the previous title it manages to capture the essence of what made the first book work so well. It also manages to develop many of the situations and characters, taking the forwards in the process for the reader.

Following on from the previous novel, this manages to bring back many of the themes and ideas that came previously. Giving the reader a clear sense of what they are going to expect, whilst also allowing some surprises, Downing is an adept and confident writer. The era is also extremely well realized once again as well, clearly evoking the style and tone of the time. Evoking the era of 1939 Berlin the Nazi party are at the height of their power, ensuring that it’s a dangerous place and time for John Russell. Creating a sense of ambiance, it manages to build upon the atmosphere of the first, developing it along with the characters themselves. Setting the tone for much of the action, the city is almost a character in of itself by this point, as it provides the ideal backdrop for this story. Trying to do the right thing whilst looking out for his family and loved ones, he’s constantly torn between his loyalties to different parties. This means that he needs to be decisive fast if he wants to keep him and his family alive, as well as ever escaping Germany intact. The odds against this seem slim, and it is a real test of his character, something that Downing knows only too well in his portrayal of him.

Taking place in the summer of 1939, this sees John Russell as the British journalist still, this time with his girlfriend Effi having been taken into custody by the Gestapo. Previously agreeing to work for American intelligence in exchange for citizenship there, he is now blackmailed by the Nazis into feeding false intelligence to the Soviets. Offering his services then to the Soviets secretly instead, he finds that he may have a lot more on his plate than he can handle, even if they are offering him, his son and Effi safe passage out of the country. Will he be able to find the missing Jewish girl? Why has the woman from his past turned up, a communist looking to make ties with the Soviets? What will occur at Silesian Station?

The John Russell Series

Giving the reader an insight into an area that’s rarely explored, it gives a unique perspective into the workings of wartime Berlin. The character of John Russell is an extremely well drawn one as well, due to his realistic and down-to-earth depiction in the series. This has ensured that the series is set to be one of the most enduring series to come from Downing as an author, as readers will continue to discover this franchise for many years to follow.

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