Steve's Reviews > The Spies of Warsaw

The Spies of Warsaw by Alan Furst
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's review
Mar 15, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, i-spy

I really enjoyed The Spies of Warsaw. I had read a couple of Furst’s novels when the series first got started. As I recall, the details and atmosphere of WW 2 Europe recreated by Furst for these novels were impressive. On the downside were some of the characters, many of whom struck me as clichéd types from wartime movies. Imagine Casablanca as not one, but a series of novels. Well, the characters seem better drawn now. Oh, there are evil Nazis, and damaged, but gallant heroes, and beautiful women, but they all seem to have more depth to them now. This particular entry in the series, which takes place in 1937, has French military attaché (and spy), Francois Mercier, working the streets and agents of Warsaw. The sense of a growing darkness is everywhere, and Furst does such a deft job building a sense of dread, that you could swear that it’s Mordor, and not Germany, just over the border. Essentially, Mercier is trying to ascertain what Germany’s avenue of attack on France will be: through the Ardennes or through the Maginot Line. The French know it’s coming, just not when, and more importantly, where. Seems there are many in the French government and military that have a lot invested in the Maginot Line (and we know how that turned out). But there are numerous side stories, with various characters (Russians, Germans, Poles, and Czechs) which are all juggled well enough. The story is pretty solid, but its atmosphere and period details that really makes this one special. Usually, in Fiction, such attention to period detail can have you losing the characters as a result. In The Spies of Warsaw, it only enhances the characters and adds to their depth.

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