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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superior spy fiction
Loyal followers of Alan Furst's closely observed and highly atmospheric novels of spies and politics in Europe just before and during WWII will recognise one familiar (Hungarian) character in "Mission to Paris" (originally slated as "The Spies of Paris"), but new readers should not despair if they don't. It simply means they face the delicious prospect of discovering...
Published on 18 Jun. 2012 by M. D. Ripley

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ok but he's not a Faulks or a Kerr
Having had the works of Furst bigged up to me by various friends who thought that because I have enjoyed the works of Phillip Kerr and David Downing I would enjoy this I settled down to this novel with some anticipation. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed "Spies of the Balkans" and thought it engaging, well plotted and well written. Imagine my disappointment when...
Published 18 months ago by Stratman


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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superior spy fiction, 18 Jun. 2012
By 
M. D. Ripley "Mike Ripley" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mission to Paris (Hardcover)
Loyal followers of Alan Furst's closely observed and highly atmospheric novels of spies and politics in Europe just before and during WWII will recognise one familiar (Hungarian) character in "Mission to Paris" (originally slated as "The Spies of Paris"), but new readers should not despair if they don't. It simply means they face the delicious prospect of discovering Furst's backlist of at least ten more brilliant novels. In this canon of work, Alan Furst has shown (and hopefully will continue to show) an iron grasp of the complexities of European history, politics and culture, into which he places characters who on the surface are compeletely out-of-their depth swimming against the tide of Fascist tyranny. The one thing Furst's characters have going for them is always that although they may be flawed human beings, they know that for evil to succeed all it needs is for good men (and women) to do nothing.
Do not expect bombs, exhibitions of unarmed combat, car chases or super-hero pyrotechnics. The level of violence in one Furst's books is usually on the same level as that in the movie "Casablanca" - when it's needed, it's there and it makes a point. But that is not to say his books are not thrilling - and occasionally downright chilling. In "Mission to Paris", the methods of an official Nazi press agency (actually a front for political warfare) are explained as follows (I paraphrase): "We (the Nazis) don't send out press releases, we send out operatives - and then let other people issue the press releases...."
"Mission to Paris" is a novel of close-plotting, immaculate history, rich atmosphere and fine, fine writing.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb spy thriller, 15 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Mission to Paris (Hardcover)
I came to Alan Furst after Spies of the Balkans and have been busily reading his older books ever since. When I heard he had a new novel out I thought I should probably wait until it came out in paperback and finish reading his older books instead but yesterday I just couldn't resist and I bought the hardback of Mission to Paris. And I'm so glad I did because I feel as though I've just time travelled - the descriptions of pre-war Paris, and Hungary, are so well done, I feel as though I've actually been there. This is a gorgeous book, and even better and more accessible than his others. I'm not a history buff, and my only quibble with his other books is that I sometimes feel don't feel informed enough. But Mission to Paris takes you straight to the heart of the events in a way that is totally gripping and totally accessible. And there's a great love story too. My wife told me she'd never read a book about spies and war but then I made her read a few pages and now she is hooked - perhaps because of the dishy film star hero! Maybe tonight I'll be the one telling her to put the light off and go to sleep! I can't recommend this book enough.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mission to Paris, 10 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: Mission to Paris (Hardcover)
Alan Furst continues to write gripping accounts of the period around and during the Second World War, mostly set in France. His latest novel does not disappoint and as usual manages to evoke quite brilliantly life in Paris in 1938, with the increasing fear and violence as well as the differing attitudes of the French people towards the imminent invasion of France.

To begin with, the hero of the novel, Fredric Stahl, appears to be less committed towards the struggle against the Nazis and one's sympathies towards him are therefore less engaged. However, as his determination not to be used as a Nazi puppet grows, so does our affection and we are desperate for his survival.

Alan's understated description of the horrors awaiting the European Jews as they struggle for survival with their attempts to escape from Germany, only to find that they are still not safe in their new country, brings alive the feelings of terror and desperation as every avenue to freedom is blocked.

Renate Steiner's character is particularly attractive - not a beauty in the physical sense, but full of determination and courage with the underlying feelings of fear of the refugee, always looking over her shoulder and not sure whom to trust. Fredric Stahl did well to choose her over the shallow and self-serving Kiki de Saint Ange.

Roll on the next book!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ok but he's not a Faulks or a Kerr, 2 Oct. 2013
This review is from: Mission to Paris (Paperback)
Having had the works of Furst bigged up to me by various friends who thought that because I have enjoyed the works of Phillip Kerr and David Downing I would enjoy this I settled down to this novel with some anticipation. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed "Spies of the Balkans" and thought it engaging, well plotted and well written. Imagine my disappointment when completing this book, which, in the edition I read it in (TV Book Club) read as though it were written as a primer for people who don't really like reading and need encouraging. Either that or it was written to be read on public transport by the part time engaged either on their phones, kindle or igadget.

Mission to Paris is competently written, in a workman like way and it is similarly plotted (but reads as though it were designed for film or TV) and consequently it has little depth, little engagement. As a reader I did not sympathise with the characters who were presented in a sequence as a series of two dimensional character pastiches drawn from a welter of influences mostly from US cinema. The ambiance ois entirely derivative from other works which try to capture Paris in the summer of 1938 (JPS trilogy springs to mind)or at least some of it. The book is light on substance and history and plot events are not intricately woven and thus, in comparison to any of Kerr's books this book feels and is superficial. In essence a poor historical spy novel for thicko's who know nothing of history, probably written by someone with a poor grasp of history who thought it wise to patronise his reading public by assuming they do not know who the British Prime minister at the time of Munich was and so must explain it in the text (rather than as an after note, or a note of the historical context at the beginning, which would have been better). The amount of time spent exposing the fact that National Socialist Govt of Germany was "bad" and why is incredible, and while quick to point the accusatory finger at those in France who thought Democracy had failed is very one sided in its portrayal of the US and its relations with Nazi Germany (US companies did very well from Nazi Germany and anti-sematism was alive and healthy in America prior to WW2). Comparison with John Le Carre are wasted, Furst and Le Carre don't compare. I veryt much enjoyed Spies of the Balkans, this book, just annoyed me it was full of stereo types which I have seen in numerous 1940s and 1950s war films which were better plotted and scripted. Rather than buy this book rent "Pimpernell Smith" or Casablanca from Love Film and have a better time.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mission to Paris, 20 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: Mission to Paris (Hardcover)
Since I picked up 'The Polish Officer' in a Book Shop many years ago I have been addicted to Alan Furst. I eagerly await his next publication and always order it so that I have it as soon as it is out. He has never disappointed me and I find that I have to re-read each novel twice after a first reading and I subsequently return to the novels later.
Furst does not produce mass-market 'pot boilers' or action thrillers. He writes beautiful sparing prose with never a word wasted. His characters are always well drawn, his work packed with complex plotting and subtle action and his central characters are usually honourable people tip-toeing their way through a murky and threatening world of intrigue and subtle espionage.
Is flattery and comparison a good thing? It seems that many comparisons of other novelists writing in this genre are made to Alan Furst. I like David Downing's 'Station Series' but as good as they are they are not in the same league as Furst. In my opinion no contemporary writer is. To draw a comparison to Furst you have to look back to the great writers of espionage fiction in an earlier age - to Eric Ambler and Graham Greene. There is much talk about 'Greeneland' and the brilliant world which Greene created in his works. Surely now after 'Mission to Paris' we should acknowledge the existence of 'Furstland', a world where honourable people are drawn into resisting the march of a dishonorable world? He has created this world very cleverly over a series of wonderful novels. Any of those novels can be read on ther own but taken together the novels evoke a stunning backcloth of the period. In 'Mission to Paris' I found myself in awe of the gentle pointers I was being given to his earlier works and characters. The film producer Casson who appeared in 'The World at Night'and the wonderful Hungarian Diplomat Polanyi.
I can't recommend Furst highly enough. All those I have introduced to his work have adored it as much as I do. He is by far my favourite contemporary writer and I am already eager to read his next novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mission to Paris - not a great read, 29 Sept. 2013
This review is from: Mission to Paris (Paperback)
I've read a few Alan Furst novels, my favourite being The Polish Officer, so came to this new novel with anticipation of a good, juicy read. From the beginning (and my eyesight is not to blame here), I found the small font size very annoying. Far too small and nothing like the usual font used in Furst's novels. It took at least 100 pages to get into and I set the novel aside for a time as it just wasn't working for me. Fredric Stahl is a decent man who gets involved in Nazi intrigue but compared to other Furst novels, this one dragged, although pre-war Paris and Hungary are beautifully described and Furst clearly has a love of the French capital. You can smell the Gauloises in cafes and railway stations.

I agree with the reviewer who said the Brasserie Heininger story has been told before (see Philip Kerr's Field Grey for his description) so it's become a bit predictable by now. Furst's women are a mixed bunch and they seem to be either femme fatale types (Kiki) or "plain" women like Orlova or even Renate, nothing in between, and I wonder if Furst actually likes women that much!

The ending was unsatisfactory, as if the author was in a hurry to complete the novel so I'm afraid this one will be consigned to my local charity shop. 3 stars at a push.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Furst's best, 9 July 2012
By 
Julia Flyte - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Mission to Paris (Hardcover)
The story is set in Paris in late 1938. Hitler has appropriated Czechoslovakia and there are fears that he will invade Poland. The French are split between those who feel that he must be stopped and those who want to appease him if it will avoid France being drawn into another war for which it is ill prepared. An Austrian born, American movie star by the name of Fredric Stahl, comes to Paris to shoot a film. Initially he is happy to be in Paris, a city that he lived in many years previously and genuinely loved. Gradually however he becomes aware of the undercurrents of menace in the city. The German Government are keen to take advantage of his Austrian roots for their propaganda purposes and initially the (somewhat naive) Stahl inadvertently plays into their hands. Then he realises that this gives him the opportunity to assist his own Government in collecting information about the Nazis, although he doesn't fully appreciate the danger in which that will place him.

This was very much a book of two halves for me. The first half of the book dragged, to the point where I kept falling asleep when trying to read it at the end of the day. One of Furst's strengths as a writer is the way that he creates an entire world for you, but there is so much irrelevant detail about the movie itself and so many characters get introduced only to disappear again. In the second half of the book, when Stahl starts to get involved in spying for the Americans, the book gets far more involving and genuinely tense. By the end I was loving it - but it took me over 100 pages to get into it.

Furst includes references to events in previous books and a few familiar characters make walk on appearances. This will not affect you if you are not familiar with his previous books, but is a pleasing addition if you are.

Overall I liked the book, but the fact that it took so long to get going was a problem for me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Story, 17 Dec. 2013
This review is from: Mission to Paris (Paperback)
Book 12, in the Night Soldiers series

Mr. Furst returns once more to pre-war Europe, nothing is formulaic about his novels each stands on its own although some may recognize old faces form time to time.

In "Mission to Paris ", the author lures his protagonist Fredric Stahl, twice Oscar nominated movie star to the "City of Light". Fredic thinks he is in France to play the leading role for paramount in "Après la Guerre". But in Europe 1938 things are not really as they seem after all it is a frightening time as the Continent is moving towards war.

Fredic makes the movie and gets entangle with all sorts of characters and attracts the attention of the Germans who are very interested in him. All they want is for him to come to Berlin and be a judge in their film festival... This is an unsubtle attempt to recruit him to spout out pro-Nazi sentiment. Fredric is very skeptical that accepting the offer would be good for his career. Saying no may not be an option and from there he finds himself in direct opposition with the propaganda meisters....Fredic seeks help from the American Embassy and in doing so he inevitably becomes one of their useful courier and information gatherer .......

"Mission in Paris" is an historical spy fiction that gives us clues into the propaganda warfare that the Nazis and the French sympathizers waged on France. The novel is entertaining enough although I found the denouement to be rather weak and its third person narrative to be a bit cheesy at time. There are crackerjack scenes but they lack in suspense is as if the author ran out of steam describing them. I like the happy ending, rare and unlikely did they happen in those days.

Although this novel is good it is definitely not Furst at his best and definitely not the one I preferred the most.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lightweight for a Furst..., 23 May 2013
This review is from: Mission to Paris (Paperback)
Alan Furst's latest is a lightweight effort compared to the many other tomes he has penned. One of the finest spy crime thriller authors writing today (and assured of a notable place amongst the leading authors of the genre - he's as good as Le Carré), he's an author I have recently been introduced to so it was good to spot this latest effort languishing on a shelf in Canada. I eagerly grabbed it. Compared to his others it was a zipper of a read, done in a few hours on a plane ride. The premise is straightforward, the theme simple, the characters are few and their motives are clear.

The novel commences with the voyage of Frederic Stahl, Hollywood star, progeny of the Warner Bros Studios, sent by his employers in a swap with Paramount to film "Après La Guerre" - a Jean Avil production set in Europe, filmed in Paris, about an aging Hungarian soldier who falls in love with a refugee, smuggles her across borders, falls foul of the law, eventually wins the day. Standard stuff. In reality, Stahl finds himself skating the thin border between actor and reluctant spy as the rising power of Hitler's Reich decides to try and use him to promote German interests. Their methods are direct, blunt, becoming forceful when he objects to their assumptions. Whilst carefully navigating the higher echelons of Parisian society, having a strange affair with Kiki, working with Orlova, and falling for the movie dressmaker, Renata, Stahl finds himself acting more and more in the interests of his government and less in the comfort of his thespian role. This is a story of a man and several women dancing in the shadows of the political war of a Europe on the brink of WWII; a story of love; story of romanticized espionage.

To be honest, it is a light effort from Furst, but then again, that's no bad thing as his earlier works can be very heavy for a new reader. The usual mirror makes an appearance, this time with the bullet hole. Furst's knowledge of his subject matter remains admirable, his handling of both plot and narrative as deft as ever. One cannot help but wonder if this is a short story that he's expanded at a publisher's request. Substantive prose, heavy hitting plots, expansive detail and knowledge of his themes - this is where Furst's strengths lie and his next novel needs to return to. This is a fluffy filler - for him - well done, erudite, but a sketch of what he's truly capable of. Fans of Furst will come away feeling slightly unsatisfied with this; but I'd recommend it for a new reader of this wonderful author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars About as good as it gets as a spy novel, 13 Dec. 2012
By 
Thomas Cunliffe "Committed to reading" (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Mission to Paris (Hardcover)
You know quality when you see it and with Alan Furst's books set in Europe in and around World War 2 you know that quality is guaranteed. His new book, Mission to Paris is no exception. Frederick Stahl, an Austrian-born film actor based in the USA is sent to Paris in 1938 by Warner Brothers to star in a film about partisan politics in Eastern Europe. While leading a life of luxury in Claridges Hotel with all the trappings of celebrity, he is drawn into the complex politics of the time and before long finds that his life is in extreme danger.

Alan Furst always bases his books on impeccable research and there is tons of period detail in his descriptions of pre-war Paris, a moody city of contrasts with incredible luxury on the one hand and dingy back-streets populated by poor and desparate people who live in fear of their lives. For despite political accords and treaties, there is no doubt that the Germans are coming.

Within a couple of days of his arrival, Stahl is being courted by people who see his usefulness. German intelligence services are deeply embedded in the city and work via old friends and colleagues, as well as through sympathetic French Fascists who see the future of their country as a vassal nation dominated by a powerful neighbour but at least free from Communists and Jews.

He soon finds himself being invited by a powerful group of Germans to judge a short film festival in Berlin. At first Stahl resists this invitation fofr he is glad to have shed his German background and has no desire to do anything to support what he sees as Nazi thuggery. But he consults the American Ambassador who seems to think it would be no bad thing to attend, especially if he could make a small delivery while he was there . . . and as with all good spy novels, one simple task is never the only thing you are asked to do but merely the first and the simplest.

Stahl finds himself embroiled in a complex affair of the heart which has dangerous political implications and before long we wonder whether his own life is to be in danger from the assassin we meet in the first pages of the novel?

Paris in 1938 is a glitzy and glamorous place, but full of traps and dangers for those who find themselves embroiled in the political turmoil of the times. Alan Furst has the knack of placing his readers right there, turning the pages rapidly, one after another as the tension mounts. I am tempted to compare Furst with John Le Carré or Graham Greene but despite similarities he is really in a class of his own. A fine writer and a fine book to join so many other of his works, all of equal quality.
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Mission to Paris
Mission to Paris by Alan Furst (Paperback - 7 Mar. 2013)
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