3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Tense and Atmospheric,
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.