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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific return to form
I was disappointed by 'Dark Voyage', thought that 'The Foreign Correspondent' was a slight improvement, but am delighted that Alan Furst has re-found his unique style and voice with 'The Spies of Warsaw'.
It's a real return to the high quality of his earlier boooks like 'The World at Night' and 'Dark Star' and their masterly evocations of period and setting - here...
Published on 21 Jun 2008 by George Rodger

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tense and Atmospheric
Alan Furst has written a number of spy novels set in the late 1930s. Whilst they invariably take place in different locations with a new cast of characters, there are some links between the books. What sets his writing apart is the sense of authenticity and the way that the books ooze tension and menace.

This book is set predominantly in Warsaw, Poland,...
Published on 4 Jun 2012 by Julia Flyte


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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific return to form, 21 Jun 2008
By 
George Rodger - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Spies of Warsaw (Hardcover)
I was disappointed by 'Dark Voyage', thought that 'The Foreign Correspondent' was a slight improvement, but am delighted that Alan Furst has re-found his unique style and voice with 'The Spies of Warsaw'.
It's a real return to the high quality of his earlier boooks like 'The World at Night' and 'Dark Star' and their masterly evocations of period and setting - here principally Warsaw in the late 1930s, with the looming menace of Hitler's Germany on one side and Stalin's Russia on the other.
French military attache and intelligence officer Colonel Mercier, a minor aristocrat and wounded veteran of the Great War, is contemplating tendering his resignation, but dutifully plays his part in the diplomatic shadowplays, where the spies are known, but their covers are politely maintained by all, where his Polish hosts are probing for France's intentions when war comes, the Russians make overtures to recruit him, and the competing German agencies are fighting their own internal struggles...
But then one of Mercier's agents makes a mistake, and sets into motion a chain of events that forces Mercier back into the action, as he has the chance to uncover a vital part of Hitler's war plans.
We move between the embassy salons and the backstreets, the gilded restaurants and the brothels, the 5-star hotels and the rented rooms - infused with the author's sweetly melancholic appreciation of a still-graceful Europe sliding into conflict. There's romance too, plus the thumbnail character sketches and internal lives of the protagonists, sparsely but skilfully drawn in Furst's trademark style of hints and highlights - not too much, just outlines that the reader fills in. And of course, the Brasserie Heininger makes a re-appearance...
If you're a Furst addict or have just discovered him, you're in for an enjoyable read.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as always, 30 July 2008
This review is from: The Spies Of Warsaw (Hardcover)
I'm a big fan of Alan Furst's novels but was a little disappointed with 'The Foreign Correspondent'. I enjoyed this one far more. I thought it was very much like a Le Carre story, concerning the life of spies. There is not a great deal of action, but a fair amount of suspense. I thought it a very complete story and we are even told the fate of the two main characters, at the end. Well to a certain point. Which is not always the case with the this authors novels.

At least two characters from his other stories are in this. Colonel Vyborg; and Doctor Lapp. Mentioned in one sentence only, is Captain De Milja of 'The Polish officer' which is my favorite.

The hero, Captain Mercier is a hard man, a decorated veteran of a cavalry engagement, rather like Nicholas Morath in 'Kingdom of Shadows'. He comes to suspect how the Germans will invade France, but convincing those above him proves difficult.

There is romance as always.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alan Furst back in form, 13 Sep 2008
This review is from: The Spies Of Warsaw (Hardcover)
I was somewhat disappointed with Furst's last book, "The Foreign Correspondent," but this book is more like his former pre-WWII spy novels. The year is 1937, the prospect of another war is looming, and Col. Mercier, a French military attache based in Warsaw, is given the task to discover how, should war break out, the Germans will attack France. Again we meet a cast of spies, civil servants and military officers, many of them world-weary and believing that war is inevitable. As in all his other novels, Furst includes a little romance, the Brasserie Heininger with its bullet-shattered mirror (that happens in his book Night Soldiers), the smoky night clubs, the rustic worker's bars. It's Furst's evocation of this era, the terse conversations, the atmosphere, which makes his books so good.

I didn't give it five stars as I still prefer his earlier novels, like Night Soldiers or The Polish Officer. These books were much longer, much meatier. I can't get enough of Alan Furst! If you are interested in espionage novels, or novels about WWII, Furst is definitely one to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A splendid book, 3 Jan 2009
By 
Bluebell (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Spies Of Warsaw (Hardcover)
This is a new writer for me, but to judge by this book, one I shall seek out in the future. Set around the beginning of the Second World War it has some of the flavour of John Le Carre novels with clandestine meetings, possible double-agents and a feeling of tension over who are the goodies and who the baddies. The uncertainty keeps one reading to the very end of the book. I found this writer easier to follow than the complexities of Le Carre's novels. Furst is very adept at painting word pictures of his characters which helped me imagine them and so clearly differentiate among them. It's not all spies though, there is some relief from their murky world in the interludes about the affair between the 'hero' and his new love.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tense and Atmospheric, 4 Jun 2012
By 
Julia Flyte - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Spies Of Warsaw (Paperback)
Alan Furst has written a number of spy novels set in the late 1930s. Whilst they invariably take place in different locations with a new cast of characters, there are some links between the books. What sets his writing apart is the sense of authenticity and the way that the books ooze tension and menace.

This book is set predominantly in Warsaw, Poland, between 1937-38. A country caught between Communist Russia on one side and an increasingly militant Germany on the other. Our hero is Mercier, the "military attache" to the French embassy, whose job it is to uncover as much information as he possibly can about Germany's potential invasion plans for France. The story doesn't really follow one coherent path. Rather it is about the day to day realties of his job: contacts wooed and lost, promising leads than evaporate, leads that produce solid information which may or may not be acted on in Paris.

Mercier is a wonderful character, still grieving the loss of his wife three years earlier and regretful at the distance between him and his adult daughters. He dislikes wooing traitors and despairs about Germany's obviously aggressive intentions towards his country. When he meets Anna he senses that perhaps there is the possibility of some happiness in his future, but she is engaged to someone else and seems out of reach.

I can't think of another writer who does a better job of capturing the feel of the times. Despite the disjointed nature of the plot, this is well worth reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lame, 28 Jan 2013
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Not exciting enough for me by far. There was no real sense of danger at anytime. Quite bland all the way through. Reasonably good prose but it was broke down in sections about three times what a chapter would be expected to contain so unless your sessions are long you break in the middle of the (non) action. Don't pay more than 50 p for this or you will be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A few days in the life of a spy, 6 April 2014
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Disappointing would be my overall reaction to this book. The characterisation is good, the sense of time and place is well captured, the various elements of the plot are plausible. So far so good, but the let down is the lack of narrative tension. The action climax comes half way through the book. The promised revenge denouement of that action is a bit of a damp squib and the book then 'builds' to a hitch less, smoothly executed intelligence coup. Well executed but bland.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, 17 Jan 2013
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I bought this book because of the TV drama that was soon to be screened. I've given it 4 stars because I really enjoyed the story - well told and informative - and it was one of those where I didn't want to put it down until finished.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars the convoluted life of a spy, but lacks an edge, 14 July 2012
By 
Rob Kitchin - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Spies Of Warsaw (Paperback)
Furst excels at weaving the humdrum of everyday life through a larger geopolitical story spanning a number of countries. And so it is with The Spies of Warsaw, which traces the convoluted life of Jean-Francois Mercier in the lead up to the Second World War, and his various dalliances and missions. The plotting is slow and ponderous at times, and occasionally a little clunky, but Furst works to draw the reader in and tug them along, and as with previous books the narrative is highly informative, detailing the place, social relations and politics of the era. The characterisation is, for the most part, excellent, though some of the Nazi thugs and French military personnel drift toward caricature at times. The story itself was quite muted and although the tension should have been ratcheted up at certain points, as Mercier undertook dangerous missions, the narrative really lacked an edge. The biggest let down, however, was the ending: the book very nearly sailing through the air as I read the last paragraph. In fact, it would have been a stronger end if that paragraph had been omitted. Overall, an enjoyable enough read, but not one of his best.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Spies of Warsaw, 14 Nov 2011
By 
julian turnbull (Sherborne, Dorset United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Spies Of Warsaw (Paperback)
It is a fascinating book and well written. With a small knowledge of Poland as my father was Military Attache in Warsaw at the start of the War, it couldn't be more appropriate. All the places come to life, and I cannot put it down.
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The Spies Of Warsaw
The Spies Of Warsaw by Alan Furst (Paperback - 30 April 2009)
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