Dark Voyage Hardcover – 12 Aug 2004
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Competitors despair. Alan Furst's mastery of the espionage novel put him beyond any would-be rival......No one does it better than Furst and DARK VOYAGE is about as good as it gets. First class in every department. (Philip Oakes LITERARY REVIEW)
'the eccentric wanderers with their strange histories, the shadowy life in the wings of the theatre are pure Casablanca¿¿¿ tension, excitement and the cat and mouse of naval warfare are Furst¿s primary business.¿ (David Smith THE OBSERVER)
Alan Furst writes brilliantly about wartime Europe. (THE ECONOMIST)
a gripping plot and a galaxy of well-drawn characters. (David Robson THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)
With Furst at his best, as with the best of John le Carre, the reader is gripped by a tale which is at bottom serious rather than simply diverting. (Sean O'Brien TLS)
The streamlined clarity with which Dark Voyage pulls all this together is extraordinary¿. Dark Voyage is vintage cinema already.¿ (Janet Maslin THE SCOTSMAN)
Furst seems to have the maritime lingo down pat, and all the time he's slipping the reader a detailed history lesson about this aspect of the war.....best of all is the sly humour that dominates every page. (Omer Ali TIME OUT)
as the novel nears its violent climax in the Baltic, there is a lot of satisfying business below-decks with over worked boilers, muffled speaking tubes, oily engine hands wielding well-aimed carbines. (Brian Dillon SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY)
Buy it and then go looking for Furst's other wonderful thrillers. (Vincent Banville CORK EXAMINER)
if you haven't read him yet, DARK VOYAGE, is the place to start. (MJ Harrison THE GUARDIAN)
I always feel a thrill of anticipation when a new Alan Furst novel arrives and DARK VOYAGE, his eighth, is as good as the other seven, which is saying a lot. (Vincent Banville THE IRISH TIMES)
The latest in Alan Furst's superb sequence of wartime espionage thrillers.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
Dark Voyage is a novel in this mould with a strong narrative but a wandering story. It has echoes of Greene and Conrad as another reviewer has suggested and a similarly poignant ending like many of Greene's stories.
And like many of Greene's "entertainments" it is to be viewed on its merits -- it does not set out to self-importantly weigh the human condition. It does seek to entertain -- and it succeeds in doing that very well. Intelligent writing that does not stoop to sensation or artifices of plot to achieve its effect .
Among the crew or along for the ride is Furst's usual grab-bag of Europeans, including a Swiss spy for the British, Falangist Spaniards, anti-Nazi Germans, Jewish refugees, a Polish naval officer, and a female Russian journalist who becomes one of the captain's several bunkmates. The story follows the incognito vessel as it moves amongst the shadowy open ports such as Lisbon, Alexandria, and Tangiers performing various deeds for British intelligence. These episodes include dropping some commandos into North Africa, dropping some ammo off at Crete for the British troops there, before winding things up with a supply drop to the resistance in Sweden.
As usual, atmosphere simply drips from the pages. The freighter's dank smells and cramped cabins come alive as it creaks and groans its way through the story. As others have pointed out, although the book is stuffed with nautical details, they're not always correct, which is likely to irk those with maritime experience. And while the ship and ports are given loving treatment, the same cannot be said of the characters. Furst just doesn't spend enough time on them to make them truly come alive. This is especially true of Captain DeHaan, who should be the protagonist, but ends up a flat figure, suborned to the ship. The story Furst tells is certainly interesting an interesting one, highlighting the shadowy world of merchant shipping in the war, however it generally lacks the suspense one expects from him. It's also much more straightforward than usual, the plot proceeds from point to point without the moral complexities one usually finds in his work. It's not a bad book, just not great, and not as rich as others of his.
They could not strengthen their mast,
They could not spread the sail.
Then the prey of great plunder is divided;
The lame take the prey." -- Isaiah 33:23-24 (NKJV)
Let me make it clear that I am reviewing the unabridged Recorded Books version that is narrated by George Guidall.
You would be missing a great treat not to listen to this recording of Mr. Guidall's reading. It's a wonderful combination of a marvelous spy story with a sensitive, savvy reader.
I like spy stories. I'm sure you do, too.
The best ones take us into situations we never imagined and are full of real dangers that make us feel the tension almost as though it were happening to us. Usually, only movies can fully grip us. Books are not usually as powerful. Dark Voyage is a happy exception.
The starting point of Dark Voyage is one that most readers don't think much about: how Dutch patriots who escaped the German invasion at the start of World War II might have formed an offshore resistance movement involving ocean shipping. How would such people feel? What could they do? Who would they ally with?
Mr. Furst adds another emotional perspective, the plight of stateless people escaping oppression. The reader's heart is drawn to them and feels pain from their difficulties and dilemmas.
Like the fine storyteller that he is, Mr. Furst also puts in a connection to an important aspect of the war: finding ways to win the battle of the seas at a time when Britain's supply lines were hanging by a thread.
Beyond that, the story illuminates an important part of World War II history at close range so we can understand the vagaries of war and alliances in new ways.
I thought that the story was magnificently imagined and eloquently told in every sense. It will be a voyage I'm sure you'll never forget.
Bravo, Mr. Furst and Mr. Guidall!
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