Berlin, 1948. Still occupied by the four Allied powers and largely in ruins, the city has become the cockpit of a new Cold War. The legacies of the war have become entangled in the new Soviet-American conflict, creating a world of bizarre and fleeting loyalties—a paradise for spies. As spring unfolds, a Western withdrawal looks increasingly likely. Berlin’s German inhabitants live in fear of the Soviet forces who occupy half the city, and whose legacy of violence has ripped apart many families.
John Russell works for both Stalin’s NKVD and the newly created CIA, trying his best to cut himself loose from both before his double-agency is discovered by either. As tensions between the great powers escalate, each passing day makes Russell’s position more treacherous. He and his Soviet liaison, Shchepkin, seek out one final operation—one piece of intelligence so damning it could silence the wrath of one nation and solicit the protection of the other. It will be the most dangerous task Russell has ever taken on, but one way or the other, it will be his last.
Caught between Soviets and Americans, John Russell can’t escape his role as an accidental spy
Book 5 in the John Russell historical thriller series.
It’s 1945, and British journalist John Russell has finally reunited with his German girlfriend, Effi, in London after a dangerous flight from war-torn Berlin. But Russell realizes his new life in England isn’t going to last when he is tracked down by Soviet agent Shchepkin, who helped Russell escape the disastrous last days of the war and the Russian army’s destruction of Berlin. It is time to repay the debt, and Shchepkin’s bosses in Moscow are not the forgiving types. Russell has no choice but to agree to be transferred back to Germany, where he will resume his cover as an investigative journalist and hand over US intelligence reports on the German Communist Party.
Meanwhile, Effi struggles to revive her acting career, but she cannot fight the desire to uncover ex-Nazi Party members still at large in Berlin. In this dangerous new world, where alliances change every day, will John and Effi be able to leave the past behind? Or are the new enemies the same as the old?
In April 1945, Hitler’s Reich is on the verge of extinction. Assaulted by Allied bombs and Soviet shells, ruled by Nazis with nothing to lose, Berlin has become the most dangerous place on earth.
John Russell’s son Paul is stationed on the Eastern Front with the German Army, awaiting the Soviets’ final onslaught. In Berlin, Russell’s girlfriend Effi has been living in disguise, helping fugitives to escape from Germany. With a Jewish orphan to care for, she’s trying to outlast the Nazis.
Russell hasn’t heard from either of them since fleeing Germany in 1941. He is desperate to find out if they’re alive and to protect them from the advancing Red Army. He flies to Moscow, seeking permission to enter Berlin with the Red Army as a journalist, but when the Soviet’s arrest him as a spy, things look bleak—until they find a use for him that has him parachuting into Berlin behind German lines.
In the fall of 1941, Anglo-American journalist John Russell is still living in Berlin, tied to the increasingly alien city by his love for two Berliners: his fourteen-year-old son, Paul, and his longtime girlfriend, Effi. Forced to work for both German and American Intelligence, he’s searching for a way out of Germany. Can he escape and take Effi with him?
“Grade: A. . . . Downing’s mingling of history and thrills makes this a must read.”—Rocky Mountain News
“Russell is a canny and likable protagonist.”—BookPage
“Wry, secretive and clever. . . . Russell is good company in this intelligent thriller.”—Hadassah Magazine
“Twists and turns aplenty make this espionage novel a superb read full of tension and suspense. . . . An amazing piece of fiction which I hope is part of a much larger series.”—Crimespree Magazine
Summer, 1939. British journalist John Russell has just been granted American citizenship in exchange for agreeing to work for American intelligence when his girlfriend Effi is arrested by the Gestapo. Russell hoped his new nationality would let him safely stay in Berlin with Effi and his son, but now he’s being blackmailed. To free Effi, he must agree to work for the Nazis. They know he has Soviet connections and want him to pass on false intelligence. Russell consents but secretly offers his services to the Soviets instead.
It’s a good plan, but soon things become complicated. A Jewish girl has vanished, and Russell feels compelled to search for her. A woman from his past, a Communist, reappears, insisting he help her reconnect with the Soviets. Meanwhile, Europe lurches toward war, and he must follow the latest stories—to places where American intelligence assignments await him.
David Downing is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction for both adults and children, including Zoo Station, the first novel featuring John Russell. He lives in Guildford, England.
By 1939, Anglo-American journalist John Russell has spent over a decade in Berlin, where his son lives with his mother. 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.