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?
Set in late 1945, Downing's outstanding fifth novel featuring Anglo-American journalist John Russell (after 2011's Potsdam Station) centers on Russell's efforts to fulfill his part of his deal with the devil that extricated his family from Berlin during WWII. NKVD agents approach Russell in London with two demands: first, that he return to Berlin to spy on some Germans to assess their political leanings and gauge the implications for the Soviet Union if Germany becomes socialist; second, that he volunteer to assist American intelligence, in essence becoming a double agent. Russell hopes that acceding to these terms will end his obligations. The stakes rise when his handlers arrange for his lover, actress Effi Koenen, to return to Berlin to appear in a German movie. A violent robbery by the Lehrter Station Gang, former Russian POWs who prefer crime to returning home, places the pair in jeopardy even before they arrive in Berlin. Philip Kerr and Alan Furst fans will be pleased.