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.
I didn’t want to stop reading. It’s a long book. I had a hard time putting it down. Lots of suspense. Many times I was saying come on, come on - eager to find out what was going to happen next. John Corey is a smartalecky, arrogant cop working for the FBI. He has many entertaining one-liners and jokes. I liked his humor, but humor is subjective and some readers may not like it. There were a few surprises along the way. Some parts were a little slow, but the last half was the best. The ending was good and complete enough for me, although the killer Asad was still alive and un-caught. The story continues in the sequel “The Lion.”
Asad was a well done bad guy. He’s a stealthy smart killing machine. I consider “The Day of the Jackal” by Forsyth as great. Lion’s Game reminded me of Jackal, but LG was missing the following. I wanted to see how Asad got his information, how his sources got information, and how Asad and those sources communicated.
Asad interacted with many people. It was hard to believe they did not recognize him. Asad’s picture was all over the TV and newspapers.
One negative - a stupid event: Two guys know Asad is in the area with a sniper rifle. So why are they walking outside alone with no bullet proof vests or other protection?
Scott Brick did an excellent job as John Corey because Scott does cocky arrogance well. John Corey’s arrogance was written in an entertaining way so it worked. But I’ve given Scott Brick 1 and 2 stars for his narration of other books where he was too arrogant, and it detracted from the book. Scott narrated females nicely here.
Genre: suspense thriller