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Monday, July 25, 2011

Book Snapshots: "Zoo Station" by David Downing.

In Zoo Station, journalist John Russell is living in 1939 Berlin.  The country is heading for war but Russell, a British citizen, wants to stay there as long as possible to be near his German son, who lives with his ex-wife and her new husband, and his German girlfriend.

Looking to earn much needed cash, Russell accepts an offer from a Soviet intelligence officer to write pro-German propaganda articles; articles, Russell assumes, that will be used to help pave the way to a Soviet/German alliance which will then push Hitler's territorial aggressions away from the Soviets.  Russell  subsequently puts considerable effort into keeping the Soviets happy, the Germans from being suspicious of what he is doing and in sharing with the British anything of import that he learns while on assignment.

Although it is a tense and terrible time in Germany, author David Downing's plot didn't sizzle for me until the very end.  Don't get me wrong:  the book is interesting and readable.  The protagonist plays all the angles he can to to help people facing disappearance and death as a result of the Nazi's horrifying practices.  Zoo Station is not, however, a stay-up-all night type of page turner.  But it is a good story, and John Russell is an interesting character living in the strange and scary world that was 1939 Berlin.  In the end, I liked Zoo Station and was sorry when the book was over.


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