Bob's Reviews > Spies of the Balkans

Spies of the Balkans by Alan Furst
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's review
May 16, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: spy-fiction
Read in May, 2011

Furst does his usual creditable job here, albeit unevenly. Reading his novels, you get a sense of the issues and impact of the Second World War in scattered points throughout Europe. Poland, Russia, the Crimea, Hungary, the Netherlands, Italy--they all show up at one point or other. Common to practically all of them, of course, is Paris, to which all the heroes of his books are drawn. The appeal to telling the story of the war from the perspective of these nations is that we see the particularities of each country and location's perspective on the war, and the common suffering, sacrifice, and nobility it brings out in the protagonists. The setting here is Greece, and the way this proud country resisted first the Italians and then, less successfully, the Germans. Like all of Furst's heroes Costa Zannis is competent, self aware, and led by quiet conviction to resist fascism. I enjoyed the fact that he was a detective, as most of Furst's heroes are defined by being former soldiers.

The one off kilter element was the love story. Usually these are highly enjoyable aspects of the novels, but here it seemed thrown in as an afterthought. I can't help but wonder if Furst didn't consider leaving it out altogether. While this would have been rare for his novels, it would have made this one better.
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