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Back door spies,
This review is from: Spies of the Balkans (Paperback)
I've not read an Alan Furst novel which hasn't portrayed the dark atmosphere of the early days of WWII in such an evocative manner. This book is no exception.
Though Constantine Zannis, a Greek police officer promoted to be in charge of political matters, is an unlikely hero, the book sets out his time - a short time - just on the point when Greece became embroiled in the ever-increasing range of Hitler's manic ambitions. I know Greece well and Thessaloniki has always had a huge mixture of characters, not least because of its geographical proximity to many different cultures. Furst creates the atmosphere pervading the city with a deft pen as first Italy tries and fails massively to successfully invade the country and then the Wehrmacht does the job with its usual jackbooted style.
The story expands rapidly for Zannis becomes involved in helping Jews flee from Berlin, then a downed British airman has to be rescued, arrangements have to be made to escape the country as he becomes a wanted man and then there is his family life.
All this is written without the use of superfluous words. There is action, there is much intrigue and throughout all this Costa Zannis manages a love affair with a beautiful Greek actress.
This doesn't really ring true but I suppose it makes us feel for the man as he juggles the many balls thrown at him. What didn't ring true for me was the use of the teleprinter. I may be wrong but these were not in use until later when the cut & paste telegram became popular and I think Siemens did not make such machines until after the war. However, it doesn't spoil the storyline. Greece is Greece and long may it remain so. Thankfully, with no uncertain help from their friends, the British & Commonwealth soldiers, they survived the struggle, though our story ends long before this final outcome.
I look forward to another in this series of dark yet very enjoyable encounters with characterful people during some of the darkest days imagineable.