An Anglo-American reporter spies for three nations in the last days of Hitler’s countdown to war.
John Russell, the journalist introduced in Zoo Station (2007), made it safely through one episode of triple jeopardy under the Nazis, and he enlarged his personal safety zone with the acquisition of an American passport on a trip west with his 12-year-old son Paul. At this point, he would be happy to stick to the sad business of reporting Germany’s descent into the madness of another war. But the Gestapo have other plans for him. If he ever wants to see his actress girlfriend Effi freed from the prison into which she was thrown on a trumped-up charge, he will have to do the bidding of the secret police, transmitting phony intelligence to the Soviet Union. The Gestapo, of course, have no idea that Russell has brought back a little spy work from America or that his contacts with the Russians are colored by his emotional and intellectual sympathies with the Glorious Workers nation. Nor are they aware that Russell’s best friend and former brother-in-law Thomas Schade has enlisted his assistance in tracking down a young Jew, Miriam Rosenfeld. Miriam’s family sent her from their little Silesian farm to what they thought would be safety in Berlin with her uncle, Schade’s employee. But the uncle never made it to the Silesian Station, and Miriam went off with a stranger. Russell’s connections with the Russians, his search for Miriam and his assignments as the correspondent for a San Francisco daily send him to, among other places, Prague, the Rosenfeld farm and the ultra-Nazi stronghold of Breslau. Each task puts him at greater risk, but he has help from the increasingly engaged Effi.
A modicum of period tension, but the real pleasure is the close-up view of daily life in the darkening Reich.