Potsdam Station is a story primarily about a man named John Russell, his life and the lives of the people he cares about – his girl friend and his grown son, in the time just before the end of WWII. The primary setting is Germany, specifically Berlin. Russell is a journalist who has gotten himself into Russia because of his past interactions within that country (perhaps explained in previous books – this is not the first John Russell story), but also because he knows the Russians are going to be the first ones into Berlin, where his girl friend and son are located.
The girlfriend works for the underground, shuttling jews out of the country. When she shows up in the story and when she takes in a young orphan girl is where I start to be interested in what is going on in the story. This took me to about 1/4 of the way through the story to get to this point. Past this, it does become a compelling story. The author starts the story off with the son, who is in the German Army, but I didn’t start caring about him or his fate until further in the book as well.
Russell asks to go into Berlin with the Russian Army, instead, after some incarceration in a Russian prison, he is given the option – his only option other than remaining in prison – to drop out of a plane with two Russian agents and a Russian scientist who are all looking to get some information from a German nuclear research facility before the German’s destroy it in their retreat.
They get into the city and get the needed papers and end up waiting in a dying city for the Russians to show up. In the mean time Russell is allowed to look for his son and girlfriend.
I won’t give away too much here, but the book does have a happy ending, which seems a little too sewn up for the circumstances they are all in. If you can get past the first part of the book, it is a story that does want you to see it to the end.
I want to thank Soho Press for the advanced copy of this book to read.