In spymaster Alan Furst's most electrifying thriller to date, Hungarian aristocrat Nicholas Morath, a hugely charismatic hero, becomes embroiled in a daring and perilous effort to halt the Nazi war machine in Eastern Europe.
Morath is now part owner of an advertising agency in Paris, while his uncle, Count Janos Polanyi, is a minor diplomat stationed in Paris. Polanyi calls on Nicholas to take part in missions against the Hungarian Fascists: carrying letters or bringing individuals back across the border in the course of his business trips. As Nicholas's dinner parties, business deals, and dalliances with his mistress start to take a back seat to the escalating crisis in Europe, his tasks become more complicated, dangerous, and bewildering to him. He knows far less than the reader, who understands that his actions will have far-reaching consequences even beyond the fate of Hungary.
©2001 Alan Furst (P)2011 Simon & Schuster
Rather than a connected story this is more a series of vignettes about Nicholas Morath, a part time Hungarian spy. The setting is Paris in the last year before the beginning of WWII.
The book tells of Nicholas Morath's various espionage missions - some very mundane like his trip to Amsterdam and others very exciting like his trip to see the Czech fortress emplacements. In between missions, we learn about Morath's misstress, a firendship with a bartender at the Balalaika bar etc.
There is the feeling of events spinning out of control as Hitler gobbles up more of Europe and a small coterie of Hungarian Aritocrats make futile efforts to spare their country from Hitler and the Arrow Cross boys.
This is a very atmospheric novel, like all of Alan Furst's book, but I did not find it quite as gripping as the more coherent books like Dark Star. Parts of the books, such as when Morath is imprisoned in Romania and the efforts made to release him, are thrilling in deed and hold the reader's attention. But the parts, especially dealing with Morath's personal life and mistresses, is not so interesting.
Neverthelss it is decent atmospheric book and it is not that long.But Furst has written better books which I would read ahead of this one. However, Furst is still the foremost writer about Europe on the eve of WWII. If you like that period and setting than Furst is a must read.
George Guidall's masterful interpretation and narration of a well written espionage story. George didn't just "read" the novel. With voice inflection, pauses, etc. he told me the story and made me feel that I was a participant/observer of the protagonist.
I would compare it to the other 8 Allan Furst/George Guidall books. I have been a recorded book listener for over 20 years and these Furst/Guidall novels are the best I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. I have listened to each many times over the years and used to wait with great anticipation for the next novel to be released. Then they changed narrators and that was the end of that. Couldn't even finish the tenth one (The Spies Of Warsaw).
I would compare Furst's writing with John LaCarre' For me Furst is more enjoyable as he just tells a "story" whereas LeCarre' includes a "message", usually critizing SIS.
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