Adolf Hitler has been chancellor of Germany for only four weeks, when on February 27, 1933, the Reichstag—home of the parliament in Berlin—suddenly bursts into flames. The Nazis promptly blame unruly communists, and in response suspend civil liberties throughout the country. Caught up in the ensuing escalation of lies, divisiveness, and bigotry is John Russell, whose Anglo-American background, unraveling union with his German wife, and job as a crime reporter all target him for suspicion. In this tension-suffused prequel to Downing’s “Station” series (begun with 2007’s Zoo Station), we find newspaperman—and future amateur spy—Russell chasing stories about the grisly slaying of a teenage male prostitute, the hit-and-run demise of a genealogist who may have been blackmailing clients, and the disappearance of a celebrity fortune teller, while also searching for a war hero’s missing daughter and helping a friend from his communist days avoid arrest for shooting two brownshirts. All along, he must endure violence and avoid angering authorities, lest he lose both his liberty and contact with his young German son, who’s rapidly embracing the new Nazi “norm.” While it occasionally suffers from procedural plodding, Wedding Station excels in portraying the balance Russell seeks between his journalistic integrity, his defiance of Hitler, and his determination to remain in a nation hurtling toward disaster.
—Jeff, Madison Books, Seattle, WA