Masaryk Station by David Downing is the last novel in the John Russell series. The story takes place in the chaotic time in 1948 Berlin, when the city was divided in the post-war era. John Russell is an American journalist living in Berlin for a long time. Even though he was linked to the Communist Party, he is involved in spying for the Americans and the Russians trying to keep his family secure and safe. John is married to a German actress named Effie; they have a son and an adopted daughter. John is planning one final job which will cement the financial security and well being of his family before he retires.
However, that final reward will take guts, cunning, and an enormous risk which he might not be willing to take. Mr. Downing ties up the John Russell series nicely with Masaryk Station by giving the reader much to think about even thought the story takes place 7 decades ago. In this book Mr. Russell struggles to the do the right thing but doesn’t really know what the right thing is, or even what is the right course of action he should take. Mr. Downing does an excellent job writing characters.
All of the characters in the book, bad or good, felt as if they could have been real people. However, the plot is still dark and brutal against the backdrop of Prague and Berlin. The interesting part of the book was the currency reform of Berlin, when both American and Russian interests wanted to control the currency and hence the economy. Both countries try to reassert their power and legitimacy over Berlin, neither willing (nor politically able) to back out.
The author also recognizes the famed Berlin Blockade in which Russia blocked all passages by air, road, rail, and water between the East and West zones. The blockade was designed to force the USA, England, and France to leave Berlin or at least accept Russian currency in their areas. It didn’t work! This is the final book to an excellent series in which the author appraises post World War II Europe in a cynical, tired, yet clear manner. The book is a wonderful introduction to the Berlin Blockade, told through an exciting story with likeable characters.
- 330 pages
- Publisher: Soho Crime
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1616952237
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