Customer Review

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Cultural Mix ...?, 4 Nov 2007
This review is from: The Foreign Correspondent (Paperback)
Having read an Alan Furst book for the first time, I check up and notice he has quite a reputation. A great storyteller, say critics writing in prestigious publications. Can't argue with that. The Foreign Correspondent carries the reader easily along, augments temperature, pace and complications at just the right cadence, gradually fits the jigsaw pieces together and ends with a satisfying climax.

A great evoker of historical time and place, the critics add. In this case, it's pre-World War II Europe, full of menace and about to explode. Furst specializes in re-creating myriads of cultural microcosms - for example his fascinating description of left-wing Genoese food market stallholders dealing with an unwelcome intrusion by Fascist police. Where on earth did to find out what it was like, just there, just then?

So often he excels himself, but occasionally these cultural tours de force are mildly suspect. His hero comes from Trieste: part Italian, part Slovene. A multi-cultural mix perfectly suited for his theme, with the Slovene component presumably intended to add Balkan zest. However the Slovenes I know are down-to-earth, pragmatic, low-key and somewhat unsophisticated. None of these traits appear in the hero. He is not Slovene.

The Reuters he portrays is leisurely in its work ethic and run by directors who are hand in glove with British Intelligence. I sweated blood and tears as a foreign correspondent for this agency for 18 years, including in Cold War Eastern Europe and the Portuguese Revolution, and I never felt the breath of British Intelligence down my neck once. My managers were so intensely independent, they were at times frankly anti-British.

OK, OK, calm down: it's fiction -- and a great read. Thank you Alan Furst. I wish I could write as well.

Marcus Ferrar [...]
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3.7 out of 5 stars (25 customer reviews)
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