May 1941. At four in the morning, a rust-streaked tramp freighter streams up the Tagus River to dock at the port of Lisbon. She is the Santa Rosa; she flies the flag of neutral Spain and is in Lisbon to load cork oak, tinned sardines, and drums of cooking oil bound for the Baltic port of Malmo. Only she is not the Santa Rosa, she is the Noordendam, a Dutch freighter that sails for the Intelligence Division of the British Royal Navy and she will load detection equipment for a clandestine operation on the Swedish coast - a secret mission, a dark voyage.
Here is an epic tale of war and espionage, of spies and fugitives, of love in secret hotel rooms, of courage in the face of impossible odds.
©2004 Alan Furst (P)2011 Simon & Schuster
A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
A non-typical Furst novel, 'Dark Voyage' is primarily centered on a Dutch captain (DeHaan), his multicultural crew, and the merchant marine perils that faced sailors from the Mediterranean to the Baltic seas. Every book Furst writes appears to grow from the same thesis, but stretch into entirely new areas. This was a nice deviation from his normal East European or Parisian locals.
With every Furst novel, I become more and more amazed at the nuance of his novels. He seems content to write his novels in the periphery of history. His characters float past major events like mouches volantes through the dark vision of history. He wants to tell the story of minor characters, minor battles, minor countries that together all made a major difference in WWII.
As soon as I read the premise of this book I was hooked: a tramp steamer, mysterious ports of call, Tangiers being one which I visited in 1962 as a young wanderer of the world, A Captain of ship who is much more than just that, a story full of wonderful lively persons be they on the dark or sunny side of the street. It is a subject matter has intrigued me since Jack London's "Sea Wolf" found me as a youngster.
History, historical fiction and mysteries are my faves, but a fan of all genres.
Enjoyed, Furst fans shouldn't be disappointed, another Noirish tale. Really like the narration.
Maybe, the story brought back memories of the lives of many northern Europens life during the war. Suspense in torpedo infested waters the book put you right in to the action.
Set you right in to the nuances of a merchant marines life during the war.
I grew up among these people, as many of my uncles were in the situations described in this book.
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