Spies of the Balkans Hardcover – 17 Jun 2010
|New from||Used from|
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
As delicately crafted as John le Carre at the height of his George Smiley years, it is a delight from first page to last... Seductive, unexpectedly sexy... it's told with an elegance that reverberates long after it's finished: it is quite superb (Geoffrey Wansell DAILY MAIL - 25 June 2010)
It's classic Furst - elegantly written, faultlessly researched, full of lovely details... Excellent. (THE GUARDIAN - 26 June 2010)
Furst's characters have the foibles, frailties and fears of humanity under pressure... it is a thriller but with real people and real history. I cannot wait for my next Furst. (Denis MacShane MP Minister for the Balkans 2001-05 THE INDEPENDENT - 2 July 2010)
enthralling evocation of the Balkans in 1940... A dark, frightening, instructive tale. (Jessica Mann LITERARY REVIEW)
intensely cinematic... the visual texture is rich and the Furst-world closes around the reader with an agreeable chill from the outset (TLS)
The literary style belies a deftly paced plot in an old-fashioned spy thriller more reminiscent of John Le Carré and Graham Greene than Ian Fleming. Highly recommended. (THE IRISH TIMES)
'America's pre-eminent spy novelist' (NEW YORK TIMES) returns with a gripping tale of intrigue and a thrilling change of locale.See all Product Description
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
We find ourselves in Salonika in 1940, with Greece wondering if (when?) the Germans are going to invade. Costa Zannis is a former detective who now handles political cases, mingling with the international cast of characters who have a range of motives for being in the port. The Balkan nations are dividing into those which support the Axis powers and those who's fierce nationalism leads them to plan for guerilla wars in the mountains.
Zannis is an honourable man and agrees to help a German Jewish woman from Berlin who is in the process of setting up a route to smuggle Jews out of Germany eastwards and onto Istanbul. The British get wind of this and approach Zannis, applying pressure on him to smuggle one of their scientists out of France before the Germans get their hands on him.
Furst is a master of what in the world of cinema would be called "noir". The characters, Zannis included, seem alienated from normal life. They inhabit dingy bars, arrange assignations on street corners and have to disappear into the shadows when cars containing their enemies nose into view. They have hopeless love affairs with old-flames before falling for the wife of a notorious gangster. Above all, the filthy game of spying infests their lives with its secrecy, its betrayals and its thorough-going nastiness.
There is so much here - complex intriguing, a cast of well-drawn international characters, huge suspense - at one point Zannis has to go to Paris where his contacts have tried to make him look as normal as possible by going to a restaurant used by Gestapo officers, where things almost go terribly wrong.Read more ›
This book revolves around Constantine Zannis, a Greek police detective serving in Salonika (present-day Thessaloniki, historically, Greece's second-largest city). He works for a shadowy high-ranking police patron on "special" cases that involve more discretion and nuance than called for in common crimes. Although in 1940 the war has yet to reach Greece, it's clear that it's only a matter of time before it does, and the city is crawling with Allied and Axis spies. As the war creeps closer and closer to the border, we see him change roles, from policeman to spycatcher to activated reserve officer to Allied agent.
In these roles we first see Zannis get involved in an underground railroad helping Jews escape German-controlled territory into Turkey. This is handled very well, as we see all aspects of the operation, from the German enablers, their SS hunters, the scared couples on trains chugging through the Balkans, the palms that need to be greased at the Turkish border, etc. And when he gets trucked north to serve in a unit along the border, it brings home the human scale of the war in Europe.Read more ›
To give a brief example, one character says: 'We are madly Hellenophile; you know, we have a great passion for Greece.' If you don't mind having every difficult word explained to you by the characters then maybe this won't annoy you, but after a while it began to drive me up the wall. Apart from anything else, it constantly reminded me that these characters were fictional, and that they were explaining things for my benefit rather than getting on with the plot. For me, the style of writing destroyed any tension that the story would otherwise have had.
It is a solidly constructed narrative but, because of the writing, the comparisons with John Le Carre are not really warranted. Perhaps I made a mistake in buying this one first. I see from other reviews of this novel that Furst's other books are better.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Alan Furst is an excellent author and he thoroughly immerses me in all his plots can recommend with confidencePublished 27 days ago by M Lambert
Book as always well written easy to read but anything but easy to put down. Always enjoy reading his books which are as always well researched!Published 12 months ago by Colin
Another great book from Alan Furst. Mingles historical fact with fictional situations in a way it feels like a trues story!! Read morePublished 13 months ago by Broseley D
First stories all good detail amd feel for the period....his work tends to blend together once you have read a few.Published 15 months ago by Mike Brunwin
An excellent read on the whole although sometimes a little slow. The book is extremely well researched both from an factual historical point of view and also in the way that... Read morePublished 17 months ago by DavidP.