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Nov 08, 2011 12:54PM
I'm thinking about buying an Alan Furst book as a gift for someone. He's already read The Polish Officer and The World at Night. Is there a particular order the books have to be read?
Do you have any recommendations?
Nov 09, 2011 10:52AM
It will matter a little, but not all that much. Only in a few instances do the main characters carry over from one book to the next. There IS a set of benchmark events that are narrated in some of the early books and are then referenced in later books, so it's fun and interesting to recognize them and then think about how they work. And many secondary characters pop up in various contexts throughout the sequence of books but again, they stand up perfectly well on their own in each book.
I read them in order because I was interested in seeing how Furst's narrative technique evolved, and then when I came to understand how he used these background events and characters to connect what are basically standalone novels, it just added that much more to my reading pleasure.
Since your friend has read books 3 and 4 and is presumably a fan, I probably would go back to Night Soldiers (1) and/or Dark Star (2) to fill in some of the missing pieces. Especially fun is a scene about an assassination in a Paris restaurant, the Brasserie Heininger, from Night Soldiers that shows in every single subsequent story.
Nov 10, 2011 05:49AM
I haven't read all of them, because I am pacing myself. But I recommend The Spies of Warsaw.
Nov 10, 2011 09:39AM
I've read three of his novels: The Foreign Correspondent, The Polish Officer, and the Spies of Warsaw. I have Dark Voyage on my to read shelf. I think all three that I read were enjoyable. My only problem right now is the publisher not permitting a decent discount on e-book versions. It really isn't a problem to get them but I just don't like the practice of this the of pricing. Thus, I am reduced to looking in used book shops as my own form of protest.
I any case, I think the way Furst concentrates on developing believable characters who act like real people dealing with the realities of the world they are having to live in make his novels my favorite of this genre.
Nov 15, 2011 06:23AM
I agree with Eric. Am fond of Night Soldiers and Dark Star. I guess the main reason is the authors ability to create the world at that particular time of tension as war approaches. I studied politics and international relations and find that Furst is extremely well read.
(last edited Mar 29, 2013 02:53AM)
Mar 29, 2013 02:52AM
Night Soldiers (1988)
Dark Star (1991)
The Polish Officer (1995)
The World at Night (1996)
Red Gold (1999)
The Kingdom of Shadows (2001)
Blood of Victory (2002)
Dark Voyage (2004)
Jun 24, 2013 04:54PM
I agree with Eric that Night Soldiers and Dark Star are important to read early because they are both set before WWII begins and the assassination in the Brasserie Heininger... and they are simply good books.
Mar 03, 2014 04:42PM
Hi folks, just to let you know, I just got alerted to a new Alan Furst book coming out in June. It is titled 'Midnight in Europe'. From the brief description available, this story is set in Spain just before/during the Franco regime. I can't wait to get my hands on it!
Mar 04, 2014 10:35AM
Larry, great news! I cannot wait to get my hands on it. Pre-ordered it on Amazon for my Kindle today! Thanks for the info. Ray
Mar 17, 2014 03:31PM
I thought I'd share Alan Furst's newsletter about his latest book.
From Alan Furst
In my new novel, MIDNIGHT IN EUROPE , there’s a scene in the little Paris park called the Square Récamier. The year is 1939 and there is civil war in Spain. In this scene a character says, “Europe is a nice neighborhood with a mad dog. Just now the dog is biting Spain, and nobody else in the neighborhood wants to get bitten, so they look away.” And that is, pretty much, what the book is about. Because that’s what happened.
In my books, once the scene is set, here come the characters, a real rogues’ gallery this time, featuring Max de Lyon, former arms trader and the Macedonian Stavros, who “spent his teenage years fighting Bulgarian bandits. After that, becoming a gangster was easy.” In other words, it’s gangsters versus fascists, along with the Marquesa Maria Cristina, an aristocrat with a taste for danger, and Eileen Moore, an Irish girl from New York. I like to sketch characters, major and minor, and there are a lot of characters in MIDNIGHT IN EUROPE. And a lot of settings.
I’m a restless novelist who likes to go places in a book, so from shady nightclubs patronized by the Paris underworld to a brothel in Istanbul, from a naval base in Odessa to the dockyards of Poland, from Gestapo headquarters in Berlin to white-shoe law offices in New York and Paris, the action moves along. The primary hero of the book is a brilliant and handsome lawyer, Cristián Ferrar, a Spanish émigré who works at a prestigious international law firm in Paris, and agrees to help a clandestine agency buy arms for forces of the Spanish Republic.
The romantic scenes in the novel take place in Paris, with one of them situated at a Norman auberge in Varengeville-sur-Mer, by the sea up near Dieppe, one of my favorite places in France. Then there’s a bar and grill in the Manhattan neighborhood known as Murray Hill. And, oh, yes, an interlude in a first-class compartment on a night train crossing France. I like sexy trains-so I’m lucky to work in the late 1930s and early ’40s.
Of course, I now have to travel by airplane, which I will do plenty of when I tour the book in June. The cities and bookstores will be up on my website soon.
Mar 17, 2014 03:51PM
Thanks Larry. Now I must simply eagerly wait until june for my next Furst fix.
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