From the New York Times best-selling author and the "modern-day master of the genre" (Newsday) comes a gripping novel of espionage and deception in 1938 pre-war Paris.
At the center of the intrigue is Hollywood star Frederic Stahl. September 1938. On the eve of the Munich Appeasement, Stahl arrives in Paris, on loan from Warner Brothers to star in a French film. He quickly becomes entangled in the shifting political currents of pre-war Paris - French fascists, German Nazis, and his Hollywood publicists all have their fates tied to him. But members of the clandestine spy world of Paris have a deeper interest in Stahl, sensing a potential asset in a handsome, internationally renowned actor.
Ranging from the high society of glittering Paris to film set locations in far-away Damascus and Budapest, Alan Furst's new novel confirms his status as a writer whose stories unfold "like a vivid dream" (The Wall Street Journal).
©2012 Alan Furst (P)2012 Simon & Schuster
But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
This is my first introduction (other than by reputation) to Alan Furst, and while the novel was interesting and well-researched from a historical perspective it just wasn't a great spy thriller. Perhaps, I was hoping Mission to Paris would be grittier, but it seems like Furst was more interested in telling this pre-WWII spy novel in the tone and style of a Cary Grant/Gary Cooper movie script.
Stahl is a pawn in a political/spy/war game between big power; a lover of a lot of attractive and dangerous women; a reluctant hero, a smoldering spy. Yeesh. It wasn't THAT over-the-top, but it just wasn't what I expected. Predicable, and almost throw-away, but still enjoyable. Mission to Paris is a good vacation or beach read, just not a spectacular spy novel.
The narration was dynamic. David Gerroll, like Furst himself, pays attention to the details.
This is not Alan Furst's best novel, by any stretch. The plot and the characters are good but not unexceptional and, if it's not wasted money to buy this book, you probably will be able to put it down long enough for convenience breaks.
I enjoyed Daniel Gerroll's reading very much. He doesn't act out the characters and scenes although he gives each character a different voice. What was unexpected and a great delight is to have the impression, very often, of hearing Peter Sellers' Pink Panther in many of the dialogues. Same tone, same inflection, same way to end a sentence by letting it die down.
[Darwin8 pretty much nailed it with his review.]
The atmosphere and mood of 1930's Paris is expertly set up by Furst (almost noir-like, if noir were a decade earlier), making it a voyeuristic pleasure to follow Frederich as he winds through the streets of pre-war Paris, attending clandestine "meetings" and social events. Instead of rock-em-sock-em action, Furst relies almost solely on tension, cleverly tightening the plot, loosening up the facades, twisting the connections and motives. And while there wasn't much action, the over all tension was palpable, and the hook-ups between debonair Frederich and the femme-fatales were tres sexy.
A predictable basic plot and cast of cliched characters, adds to the slow overall feel, but the novel actually moves at a fairly good pace and contains some interesting history. Still, it felt lackluster and plodding at times, and lost my attention. The smooth easy-on-the-ears voice of Daniel Gerroll, his ability to create such mood, and perfectly interpret the characters, made the listen enjoyable enough to finish. One of those that you pick up in paperback, read, then stack horizontally on a lower library shelf.
Alan Furst is one of very few authors whose books I automatically read as they are published, without waiting for either professional or readers’ reviews. I’ve yet to be disappointed, and his newest, Mission to Paris, is among his best works. 1938 Europe is a frightening place as the continent inexorably moves to war. It is scary for the participants, but darker for Furst’s readers because we already know what happens. Furst excels as a mood painter and as a chronicler of ordinary people caught in a history not of their choosing. Their reactions and the roles they chose to play, are as varied as human existence. One finds Furst’s novel interspersed with heroes, opportunists, venal and terrifying people, as well as the naïve. While Furst’s 1938 Paris is meticulously researched, he does not dwell on the historical, perhaps because we already well know the history (e.g., Hitler’s annexation of Austria and Czechoslovakia, Chamberlain’s appeasement at Munich, and Krisallnacht in Germany). But he skillfully melds events into the thread of his story. Mission to Paris, while having an exciting plot, is not a thriller or page-turner in the sense of, say, a Daniel Silva story, but it is intense and suspenseful enough. This is a most enjoyable book, easy to read, but worthwhile from a literary standpoint.
This book may be more like a summer read for the aficionado of Spy novels; I wouldn't know, because I rarely read them, mostly because I too often get lost in the intrigue. I tired reading "Tinker, Tailor..." and hated it; spent the entire read in a state of totally confusion. Even the movie confused me. So I tend to avoid spy novels.
That said, I kind of enjoyed this one...
I too was struck my the "Noir" style; and how very "Cary Grant" it was.
I thought there were some flaws in the logic at times. Seems to me that if you unplug phones that monitor conversations you are clearly alerting the monitors, and are begging for trouble.
On the whole I found the book enjoyable; I didn't have to work to keep up with the intrigue, or keep trying to sort out the characters and what they were about.
I enjoyed the feel of the place and the period. Yes, I agree, there were times when I thought it was a bit trite, and a cliched, but the cliches didn't dominate my experience.
Daniel Gerroll certainly brings it home; or to 1930's Paris. Strong, nuanced, quietly sophisticated and richly elegant in his interpretation with beautiful accents that sound native.
But, in the end, it didn't quite gel for me and I came away disappointed.
I liked the subject matter, but I was hoping for something more dynamic, like Restless by William Boyd.
Not really - story was just not that compelling.
Even though I listened not long ago, the story has faded from my mind. Not a keeper.
The voice, pacing and subtle nuances of the narrator. The voice was better than the actual writing.
Yes very detailed sense of Paris and Berlin pre-WW2. Liked the throw back to the "leading man " time of Cary Grant in movies.
no -- I loved the voice so much I did not mind it trolling along a steady pace.
I think the audio version is probably better than the text version -- seemed like it might have been kinda dead on the page.
I loved Alan Furst and bought this book only because it was new and had has name on it. I'm afraid I won't buy another book by Furst until it's been vetted by others.
Furst wrote great novels about peasants and espionage. Now he likes to tell stories about snobs and espionage. I'm just not into that.
Yes, George Guidall. But this book was so poorly written I'm not sure his masterful narration would have made a difference.
I can't answer that question.
Nope, that says it all.
Live near Yosemite National Park. Listen to Audible books while hiking.
Alan Furst is a first rate novelist of spying before and during the Second World War. This work portrays Paris and Berlin in ways that give the reader an accurate feel for what was happening then. Hard to know how this work could be improved. Well worth the price.
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