Zoo Station journeys to 1939 Berlin

From Soho Crime
From Soho Crime

Zoo Station by David Downing; first published in 2007 by Soho Press Inc.; Kindle price currently $1.99 (USD), paperback edition, list $9.99 (USD). Book 1 of a 6-book series.

Zoo Station introduces John Russell, a journalist whose policy of appeasing the Nazis in 1939 mirrors the policy of the politicians whose attempts to avoid a world war would soon fail.

Russell, a 40-year-old who freelances for newspapers around the world, has lost the youthful idealism that once led him to join the Communist Party, fight fascists in Spain, and write hard news without worrying about whom it might offend. Now, he plays it safe so he can remain in Berlin, where his young son, Paul, lives with his ex-wife and her second husband.

But nothing is safe in Nazi Germany, and Russell soon finds himself caught between his old comrades in Russia, his connections at the British Embassy and the Gestapo. The danger deepens when a fellow journalist enlists Russell’s help, then plunges to his death from the platform at the Zoo Station subway while gathering evidence of a Nazi plan to euthanize German children.

Soho Press provided an advanced reading copy of Zoo Station as part of its reading challenge celebrating 25 years of publishing international crime fiction, and I thoroughly enjoyed this thriller. Russell’s conflict between compromise and integrity while living under Nazi rule really reflects the conflict that paralyzed the politicians who tried throughout the 1930s. The result is a taut thriller that provides insights to a real struggle, as well as the fictional one.

Russell proves to be an honorable hero, an ordinary man who undertakes the extraordinary when faced with dangerous times in a dangerous place. I’m glad this was only the first book in a series, because I want to read more. If you like espionage thrillers, especially those set in Nazi Germany, I think you will, too.

NOTE: Sis received a complimentary copy of Zoo Station from Soho Press Inc. via NetGalley for her participation in the publisher’s 25th anniversary reading challenge.  Sis is grateful for the opportunity.

Description:  By 1939, Anglo-American journalist John Russell has spent over a decade in Berlin. He writes human-interest pieces for British and American papers, avoiding the investigative journalism that could get him deported. But as World War II approaches, he faces having to leave his son as well as his girlfriend of several years, a beautiful German starlet. When an acquaintance from his old communist days approaches him to do some work for the Soviets, Russell is reluctant, but he is unable to resist the offer. He becomes involved in other dangerous activities, helping a Jewish family and a determined young American reporter. When the British and the Nazis notice his involvement with the Soviets, Russell is dragged into the murky world of warring intelligence services.

Soho Crime has been publishing atmospheric crime fiction set all over the world for the last 25 years. The publisher’s popular series take readers to France, China, England, Laos, Northern Ireland, Australia, Japan, Germany, South Africa, Italy, Denmark, and Palestine, among other locales, with entire range of crime fiction—detective fiction, police procedurals, thrillers, espionage novels, revenge novels, stories of thieves, assassins, and underworld mob bosses.


Saturday savings . . .

Flames over France

I love bargain books – they feed my need to read without breaking my budget – and I’ve picked up a number of first-rate reads for less than a dollar and several for nothing. I also love to share my finds with my friends, and I want to share them with my readers . . . which is easy when it’s a book I’ve already read but not so easy when it is a book I haven’t read because these offers are usually limited, often for a day or so. What a dilemma! So, here’s my solution:  I’ll try posting some, like this one, where I’ve only read a sample but which are offered by publishers that I have found to be reliable or are recommended by others I have found to be reliable, when I can’t find one I have read and can recommend.

Let me know what you think.  Your feedback will help me decide whether to make this a regular feature or to stick with reviewing books I have had time to read and review.

Flames over FranceFlames over France by Robert Jackson, 224 pp.; Kindle edition published by Endeavour Press in 2016; originally published by Severn House in 1997.  Endeavour’s 99-cent Deal of the Week (99 pence in the UK).

Book description:  May 1940: Flight Lieutenant Ken Armstrong is deployed to an airfield in France. His arrival coincides with Hitler’s invasion of France and the Low Countries. He picks up victory after victory but nothing he can do will be enough to turn the tide. Armstrong befriends the pilots he fights beside but is forced to watch them drop out of the sky each day. The battle for France will be lost. But that doesn’t mean the war is over. Armstrong and his men are determined to fight tooth and nail against impossible odds. In this tale of dignity and bravery when all hope seems lost, Armstrong must do what needs to be done. As a former pilot and Squadron Leader himself, Robert Jackson masters the plot and brings history to life in fantastic detail. This is the second novel to feature the charismatic Flight Lieutenant Ken Armstrong, following on from Flames over Norway.

Endeavour Press is an independent digital publisher in the United Kingdom, and, while not every book published coincides with Sis’s personal taste, she has found all of them to be well-written and well-edited. The publisher’s free weekly newsletter provides information on a variety of discounted and free ebooks each week.  Readers can sign up to receive the newsletter at www.endeavourpress.com.

About the Author:  Robert Jackson (b. 1941) is a prolific author of military and aviation history, having become a full-time writer in 1969. As an active serviceman in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve he flew a wide range of aircraft, ranging from jets to gliders.