Dark Star Paperback – 30 Apr 2009
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‘Imagine discovering an unscreened espionage thriller from the late 1930s, a classic black-and-white movie that captures the murky allegiances and moral ambiguity of Europe on the brink of war… Nothing can be like watching Casablanca for the first time, but Furst comes closer than anyone has in years.’
‘The time-frame of the late 1930s on the continent was once the special property of Eric Ambler and Graham Greene: Furst has ventured into their fictional territory and brought out a story that is equally original and engaging.’
New York Times
‘Espionage oozing from every shadow – writing of a high calibre.’
'Outclasses any spy novel I have ever read' Richard Condon, author of THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATESee all Product description
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If one is to be critical, one has to say that the middle third of the book sacrifices pace for historical exposition. The dialogue is unnatural and used to download information rather than to develop character. In places I felt I was reading a textbook rather than a novel. But the historical content is so interesting that many readers won't mind this at all - I have a friend who has read this book four times and plans to read it again, so plainly the historical content is no obstacle for him.
The quality of the writing in Dark Star is superb, particularly in the early part of the book and in the final section. Furst takes us into a world of intrigue and authenticates it with astonishing attention to period detail. This book is a great read, and in places a great novel.
Dark Star is set in pre-war Paris, a Soviet journalist (Andre Szara) fights to stay alive caught between the approaching menace of Nazi Germany and the ruthless savagery of the NKVD. The oppressive atmosphere of uncertainty can almost be felt like a breath of fetid air as you open the book and remains convincing throughout as Furst resists applying the wisdom of hindsight - Szara knows war will happen, but when? It seems certain that Hitler must fight, but who as alliances are shifting and often meaningless?
Szara's efforts to cling to a life (any life) are further complicated as he is used by warring factions in the NKVD who view Szara's inevitable death as an acceptable write off. Szara's friend consoles him with "In [any] work there is competition, alliance, betrayal. Unhappily when an intelligence apparat plays these games, they are equipped with very sharp tools ....... and the level of play can be frightful. A journalist .... will simply be eaten alive."
A man driven by love, anger and desire, trying to survive in a world between competing ideologies that have a savage and feral momentum.
"You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you" (Leon Trotsky) best seems to summarise Szara's quiet terror and the reader's compulsion to read on.
There is a marvellous Flashman-esque element to this story, wherein the author lands his main character into the most improbable, historically important events leading up to the outbreak of hostilities between Germany and Russia. How he remains alive is of as much a mystery to him as to us, as he is hunted by the world's most devious men. Yet, there is a thin thread of possibility that it may have been possible for him to do so.
It is this thread that pulls us as readers from one unlikely scenario to another as he cheats death time and again. And before you know it you have been convinced that the parallel lives of Stalin and Hitler were inevitable through fate.
I recommend this book to all who enjoy the suspension of reality, with a tinge of historical activity to spice it all up.
The 1938 background is the outline for the outbreak of world war 2
The subtle character images are gripping
If you like spy stories this is a must.
But russian spies will always be a mystery.That is why we buy them
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