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
Furst and Guidell magnificent. Keep these two creating WWII brilliant historical military fiction . Please omit narrator Gerroll ,a story killer for
five star novels.
I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^
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.
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.
I think Alan Furst is one of the most talented authors writing today, regardless of genre. However. . . one thing that always makes me skip forward are what seem like "obligatory" sex scenes.
Here are my reasons:
1. They are truly cringe-worthy. They are so very dated, and unfortunately, will get even more so as time goes on. I feel like they are perhaps a holdover from the 80s when titillation like this was expected in thrillers, but this is the 21st century, and the world has moved on.
If you want to get your kicks reading scenes like that you can pick up a women's romance novel.
The sex as it is written in this and every other Furst novel (with the exception of Night Soldiers) does nothing to move the narrative forward, and does nothing to enlighten us about the characters. It just makes me, and I'm sure other listeners, press the fast forward button, or flip forward a few pages.
2. With a few exceptions, the only time we hear women speak is when they're in bed; when they're naked in the bedroom; or when they're dressed and having lunch/cocktails/dinner and talking about sex. We know more about the women's physicality than we do what's going on in their heads. There are exceptions, and some of them are great, but they are, unfortunately, exceptions.
I'm not advocating for bigger roles for real women in the novels--that's entirely up to the author (though that would definitely make me a bigger fan than I am)--just scale back on the puerile descriptives.
Finally, and perhaps this should have been first, they force the majestic, gravel-voiced George Guidall to muster up voices for--buxom, usually--femmes fatale, or high-pitched naive virgins, or the modulated tones of sophisticated rich girls--and that's just not fair! (Though it if it could guarantee he would narrate all of Furst's novels and not Daniel Gerroll, I could live with it. Sorry George.)
In Dark Voyage, we are reading about merchant seamen in wartime (my father was among their number), soldiers and spies, so it's safe to assume that there is a lot of sex when they arrive in port, alive! A couple of sentences, quick physical description, allusions to how freaky they get if you absolutely must, and leave it at that. Please!
ONE Journey to Rule Them All!
I'm just over half-way through the book, but I would have to agree with other reviewers who say it meanders, and one thing a merchant vessel did not do 1939-1945 was meander. The story should have taken that as its direction. (Apologies for the unintentional puns.)
The research Furst puts into his work is breath-taking and Dark Voyage is no different. I am in awe of the detail here and it has helped me visualize and bring to life real stories I've heard. I just wish he could have come up with one cohesive plotline, ONE journey, to rule them all! so to speak.
I'm sure that Dark Voyage represents a tiny amount of the research the author did, and hope he will write about the merchant navy again, but with a definite storyline to thread it together.
As I said earlier, my father served on an Irish merchant ship during the war. Ireland was a neutral country, but their ships were still strafed by the Germans. There were lots of "mistakes, accidents and misunderstandings" that made the voyages dangerous for non-combatant nations. And there were lots of times when they were stuck in foreign ports for weeks at a time. Plenty of opportunity for action in one voyage!
One aspect that didn't ring true to me, but this is fiction and it's Furst, so I will go with it, was the idea that the captain of a merchant vessel would not tell his crew they were actively working for one side in the conflict until after they'd set sail. Aside from maritime law, it would be a crazy risk to take knowing that the men would spend their pay in port getting drunk and telling anyone within earshot what they were doing. That's if they didn't mutiny beforehand.
Alan Furst is as much an historian as he is an author. It's impossible not learn something interesting reading/listening to his work.
George Guidall can do no wrong.
Hope to listen to a new Furst novel soon, but only if it's narrated by George Guidall.
I've tried, but I just can't listen to Daniel Gerroll narrating them. I'd rather read the books.
This book was very boring and I wish someone would give the narrator some water. Overall one of the worst books I've read or listened to, and if not for a long car ride would have quit ten minutes in.
Camping in the Cold
A week written entertaining book. The story gives a nice window into merchant shopping during the war. Entertaining until the very end.
The weary knight. Read to escape reality. Husband, father, ER Doc.
I bought three Alan first 495 I listen to this one with four dollars and 95 story.t
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