A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
One of those GREAT, sweeping spy epics. Furst stands right with le Carré (The Spy Who Came in From the Cold), Littell (the Company), and Mailer (Harlot's Ghost) in his ability to capture the ambiguity, color, temperature and texture of prewar Europe as well as the people and claustrophobia of War.
I'm glad I decided to crack this spy nut. While there are segments here and there I didn't think were fantastic, on the whole, the entire novel was worth the time, effort, and credit. Spy fiction doesn't get much better than this. I read/listened to an earlier novel of his a few months ago (Mission to Paris) while traveling in E. Europe and almost ended my Furst journey before it began. I'm glad I went back to the beginning. Just based on this ONE novel, I'm about ready to commit to the next three or four Night Soldier novels.
What happens when a woman loves two righteous men? Two feuding nations? A woman who is struggling with both her inner and outer world; her inner and outer dialogue. ''The Little Drummer Girl'' is the second best spy novel I've ever read, but I NEVER give first prizes. Charlie is a woman who incubates in the womb of her mind the warring ideals and pitiful trails of two imperfect people(s). We all have both angels and devils in our nature and the irony is that when we try to invent one, we end up becoming the other.
I love William F. Buckley's take:
''The Little Drummer Girl'' is about spies as ''Madame Bovary'' is about adultery or ''Crime and Punishment'' about crime. Mr. le Carré easily establishes that he is not beholden to the form he elects to use. This book will permanently raise him out of the espionage league, narrowly viewed.
Jayston the narrator, gently eases us through Le Carré's foggy, nuanced narrative. The layers and levels of this novel makes this a challenging novel to narrate, but Jayston does an amazing job with it.
Alan Furst's great historical espionage novel, Dark Star is a prewar epic of Europe's moral ambiguities and shifting loyalties. Told through the eyes of Pravda journalist and Luftmensch (and sometimes NKVD spy) André Szara, the story stretches from Paris to Berlin, Warsaw, and even down to Izmir. In this novel Furst examines ideas of trust and suspicion, love and hate, magnetism and repulsion.
It is a novel about the compromises good men make to survive, the power that a few evil men have over millions, and the sacrifices a few Luftmenschen make to save thousands. Ultimately, Dark Star is a story of the Russian and German nonaggression pact (Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact) at the beginning of WWII and how the Jewish members of Stalin's spy network were forced to make huge compromises to survive (most didn't survive) and how some were pushed into heroics because decency and the times demanded it.
The magic of this novel is that Furst is able to unweave the complicated nature of the prewar spy alliances and show all the different threads and colors and never lose the reader. His prose is amazing. His characters are nearly perfect. One of my favorite historical spy novels of all time.
The book has a good plot that, just like a good Law and Order episode, goes in directions you don't anticipate in the early stages. I would definitely listen to subsequent books in the Jeremy Fisk series as they appear, which I hope they do. I'd have to agree with an Amazon reader who said it lacked a bit of emotion, but it was still better than average for me. All very forgivable for a first novel!