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In Downing's quiet sequel to Zoo Station , set mostly in Berlin in 1939, British journalist John Russell gets involved in multiple intrigues while working as an amateur spy for the intelligence services of assorted major powers. When Miriam Rosenfeld, a young Jewish woman dispatched from provincial Silesia by her Uncle Thomas, who's Russell's ex-brother-in-law, fails to arrive in Berlin, Thomas asks Russell to help find her. Meanwhile, the Nazis blackmail Russell into passing disinformation to the Soviets by arresting his actress girlfriend, Effi Koenen; he agrees to spy for the Americans in order to get a U.S. passport; and he offers to spy for the Russians if they'll help him leave Europe when the time comes. While these various narrative threads, in particular Rosenfeld's disappearance, do generate suspense, thriller fans should be prepared for a dearth of exciting action scenes. Full of period detail, this novel effectively captures life in the police state of Berlin on the brink of war. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.