April 1945. Hitler's Reich is on the verge of extinction, and its enemies are already plotting against each other. Assaulted by Allied bombs and Soviet shells, ruled by Nazis with nothing to lose, Berlin has become the most dangerous place on earth.
Anglo-American journalist John Russell has travelled to Moscow, having escaped from Berlin in 1941 as America entered the war following the attack on Pearl Harbour.
Russell's eighteen-year-old son Paul, born to a German mother, is on the Oder front line, awaiting the final Soviet onslaught, ready to retreat towards Berlin, and resigned to the certain prospect of either death or imprisonment. Inside Berlin, Russell's girlfriend Effi has a Jewish orphan to care for, and the Gestapo on her trail. The advancing Red Army promises liberation, but is also seeking retribution, particularly from German women.
To find and save his son and girlfriend, Russell must reach Berlin no later than the Red Army. But only the Soviets can get him there, and the price of their help will threaten both his and the world's future.
Set in early 1945, Downing's gripping fourth novel featuring Anglo-American journalist John Russell (after Stettin Station) finds Russell in the Soviet Union. As the Russians approach Berlin, Russell devotes his energies to trying to reunite with his loved ones his 18-year-old son, Paul, a member of the German army on the Eastern Front, and his lover, Effi Koenen, a former actress who now works to smuggle Jews to safety. Russell attempts to persuade the Russians that he should accompany them into Berlin, but they suspect that he's an American spy sent to sell them on the idea that the U.S. and Britain have no interest in the German capital. Meanwhile, the Nazis pick up a group of refugees Effi helped to escape, raising the prospect that one of them might disclose her involvement. Downing convincingly portrays the final days of the Nazis in power, and his characters are rich enough to warrant a continuation of their stories, even after the war.