Monday, July 9, 2012
Review of Silesian Station by David Downing (Old Street Publishing, 2008)
There’s a lot to like about Silesian Station and it’s a step up from the first book in the series, Zoo Station. The characterization is richer and more keenly observed, and the plotting is excellent, interweaving a number of strands that collectively keep the dramatic tension high throughout the story. The historical context is well realised, both in relation to the larger macro-politics across the continent in the lead up to the start of hostilities, but also the everyday realities with respect to the diverse circumstances and views of people within communities, and how politics and communal relations played out in different locales (Berlin, the Polish border, Moscow, Prague and so on). Whilst the prose is quite workman-like, Downing nevertheless captures the sights and sounds, the cinema and cafes, the streets and apartment living, the fashions and pastimes, and the hopes and fears of people in difficult situations. The result is a rich, rewarding and entertaining read that steadily builds in tension and is satisfyingly resolved.