Russian Roulette: A Deadly Game: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin’s Global Plot

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Russian Roulette: A Deadly Game: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin's Global PlotRussian Roulette: A Deadly Game: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin’s Global Plot by Giles Milton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This slim easy to read volume is all about the foundations of formalised overseas spying by the British. I heard the author being interviewed on radio and this piqued my interest. It’s an intriguing story about resourceful individuals who in some cases gave their lives. Some of it reads like the old Boys Own adventures. Much of the detail is still classified but through a quirk of history some of the files are now under Indian jurisdiction and accessible.
This is certainly a testament to the old adage that truth is stranger than fiction. Livings undercover for months, keeping one step ahead of the Russian secret police are just some of the exploits of these remarkable individuals. The complicated and tenuous courier links to get information back to Britain are astounding.
A great way to learn something about the early days of the Soviet union and how permeable the Iron curtain was in those early days.

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Masaryk Station (John Russell, #6)

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Masaryk Station (John Russell, #6)Masaryk Station by David Downing

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is sadly the last in the John Russell Effi Koenen series. I have read then all in order. In fact Zoo Station the first in this series got me started on WW 2 based fiction.
I didn’t realise that it was the end until I read the authors wrap up on the last page. I had felt the story was losing direction a few times. However true to form it ties together in the last few pages. Jon Russell and Effi have over the series survived the Nazis, the Americans and the Soviets. Downing does touch on what must be one of the many great tragedies of the Europe in the twentieth century. Eastern Europe having survived the Nazis was overrun by communism.
As always John Russell is busy playing off both sides. But what is different in Masaryk Station is that he is trying to deal himself, Effi and their adopted daughter out of the game.
It’s a bit like leaving old friends at the train station as you head off. Looking forward to the Jack of Spies perhaps the beginning of a new series of adventures with David Downing.

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One month with android

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I have been playing with my Google nexus 7 for about a month now. I have just discovered sliding around the keyboard without taking my finger off very much. It means that I can type faster than the old hunt and peck method.
I am very happy with android as it does most of what I can do iOS. There  are  some  familiar apps like Facebook and twitter. However not all apps are available on both iOS and android.   I say this because my experience is mostly with the apple app store I discovered the imbalance.  Since i started with the Google play store I have have seen a difference in the style and number of apps. However if you can’t find the exact same app there is always something similar.
The “play store” has itself been updated to a newer and clearer format in the short time that I have been using it. Don’t much like the name but I guess that will become accustomed to it.
So far so good.

The Holy Thief (Captain Alexei Dimitrevich Korolev #1) by William Ryan

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The Holy Thief. William RyanThe Holy Thief. William Ryan by William Ryan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Holy Thief by William Ryan is the first in series with the central character Captain Korolev. I bought the book from a discount bookstore on a recent interstate trip only $8 and I got my monies worth. The story is set in the Soviet Union in 1936, with the backdrop of the Stalinist regime. The story is peppered with references to denunciations and betrayal. Students of the period will be well aware of the purges and repressions that occurred during the bloody reign of Stalin.
Captain Korolev is an ordinary policeman if there is such a thing in a totalitarian state. However after a particularly brutal murder in an old church the case becomes political. Korolev is caught between his own department and the NKVD, the precursor to the infamous KGB.
The author has managed to create a sense of the suspicion that must have permeated muscovite population during the period. I am encouraged to read more ion this series.

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Lehrter Station (John Russell #5)

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Lehrter StationLehrter Station by David Downing

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lehret Station is the 5th instalment of the John Russell and Effie Koenen Series. Author David Downing really creates an environment that makes you feel that you have stepped back in time. This story is post world war 2 and focuses the personal hardships are exposed. Food shortages, accommodation struggles and finding lost friends and relatives are the prevailing themes of this story. This provides a real sense of the confusion and dislocation in past war Europe. It makes the whole enterprise of war seem futile ultimately nobody wins.
John Russell the English journalist with an American passport has sold his soul over to nearly all the spy agencies. There is now more than one ferryman to pay, he struggles to play one side off against the other to save his and Effie’s skin. All this takes place in a crumbled and bombed out Berlin.
The occupying forces and their various zones add to the complexity of post war Berlin. As always a good yarn and a fascinating read. I have the next instalment Masaryk Station on order!

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The Savage Altar (Rebecka Martinsson #1) by Åsa Larsson

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The Savage AltarThe Savage Altar by Åsa Larsson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this in June 2010 and is part of my transfer of reading from the Now Reading plugin to Goodreads

The Savage Altar is the first in a series by Swedish author Åsa Larsson featuring a lawyer Rebecka Martinsson as the main character. The story sees her drawn back to the community where she grew up. There are old relationships that are rekindled and refreshed. It is a tale of power and corruption centering on the modern evangelical churches and human frailty. Continue reading “The Savage Altar (Rebecka Martinsson #1) by Åsa Larsson”

Prague Fatale (Bernard Gunther, #8)

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Prague Fatale (Bernard Gunther, #8)Prague Fatale by Philip Kerr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Prague Fatale Phillip Kerr dips in and out of his protagonists’ life. There is not an obvious chronology to the novels. However this rather cleverly deals with the finite landscape that the novels occupy.
This book arrived literally as I had completed the previous instalment Field Gray. The setting, Prague, is more constrained than the previous and as such the range of  characters is reduced.
This instalment has Bernie Gunther in the service of Reinhardt Heydrich, a feared member of the Nazi elite. Continue reading “Prague Fatale (Bernard Gunther, #8)”

Field Gray (Bernard Gunther, #7)

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Field Gray (Bernard Gunther, #7)Field Gray by Philip Kerr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this in October 2011 and is part of my transfer of reading from the Now Reading plugin to Goodreads

Philip Kerr’s hero Bernie Gunther has been living a very nice life in Cuba. His adventures always have him beholden to someone. They are invariably unscrupulous or is some shady police officer. He has a knack for finding these people. Or he somehow comes to their attention. Continue reading “Field Gray (Bernard Gunther, #7)”

The One from the Other (Bernard Gunther, #4)

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The One from the Other (Bernard Gunther, #4)The One from the Other by Philip Kerr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this in November 2011 and is part of my transfer of reading from the Now Reading plugin to Goodreads

I am a huge fan of the Bernie Gunther Novels and this one is no exception. Like the predecessors there is great attention to the historical circumstances that surround the central character Bernie Gunther.

Another enjoyable instalment in the Bernie Gunther saga.Thankfully there are more to come.

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Dark Voyage – Alan Furst

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This Alan Furst novel has a decidedly nautical favour and gives a Dutch flavour to the war in Europe. The story is set largely at sea and follows the intrigue of ports across the Mediterranean and northern Europe. As would be expected on a merchant ship there are a variety of characters from all over the place.

The central character DeHaan is a resourceful old salt who is master of his own world. A great yarn with a great finish. Predictably the infamous Brassiere Heininger is featured but in a very unusual way.

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