Paris, 1938. As the shadow of war darkens Europe, democratic forces on the Continent struggle against fascism and communism, while in Spain the war has already begun. Alan Furst, whom Vince Flynn has called “the most talented espionage novelist of our generation,” now gives us a taut, suspenseful, romantic, and richly rendered novel of spies and secret operatives in Paris and New York, in Warsaw and Odessa, on the eve of World War II.
Cristián Ferrar, a brilliant and handsome Spanish émigré, is a lawyer in the Paris office of a prestigious international law firm. Ferrar is approached by the embassy of the Spanish Republic and asked to help a clandestine agency trying desperately to supply weapons to the Republic’s beleaguered army—an effort that puts his life at risk in the battle against fascism.
Joining Ferrar in this mission is a group of unlikely men and women: idealists and gangsters, arms traders and aristocrats and spies. From shady Paris nightclubs to white-shoe New York law firms, from brothels in Istanbul to the dockyards of Poland, Ferrar and his allies battle the secret agents of Hitler and Franco. And what allies they are: there’s Max de Lyon, a former arms merchant now hunted by the Gestapo; the Marquesa Maria Cristina, a beautiful aristocrat with a taste for danger; and the Macedonian Stavros, who grew up “fighting Bulgarian bandits. After that, being a gangster was easy.” Then there is Eileen Moore, the American woman Ferrar could never forget.
In Midnight in Europe, Alan Furst paints a spellbinding portrait of a continent marching into a nightmare—and the heroes and heroines who fought back against the darkness.
My first novel by this well known spy thriller author and I found it rather banal. Midnight in Europe' synopsis and cover hinted at the winds of war atmosphere which permeated the entire continent as Fascism struck entire nations.
It is now the late thirties and Spain finds itself crushed under Franco's army. Wars will soon be fought in the air but no planes are to be found. The Republic is desperately seeking reliable suppliers of much needed guns and ammunition. A Spanish emigre such as Ferrar with the right legal connections is the perfect man to act as a go between during difficult and often dangerous missions to procure the rebels what they need.
Both from the spying aspect to the uneasy atmosphere of pre-war Paris the plot line develops rather stately leaving the reader to wonder where it might lead. Ferrar appears to be a sort of Bond man (as in James) who executes his job while living on the edge and savour the many delights offered by the opposite sex. I myself was more interested in finding the historical facts behind the story and to that extent, felt it just glossed over. To that aspect C. J. Sansom's 'Winter In Madrid' was much more satisfying!
I have no doubt Alan Furst has many fans but this particular novel surely cannot represent the sum of his skill. Neither the protagonists or the plot were enticing enough to suggest an encore. With its sexual suggestions and strong language I feel it was written for a different demographic. Gentlemen, what do you say?
Note: Due to thematic contents and sexual explicit scenes recommended for mature readers only.
Meet the Author:
Alan Furst is widely recognized as the master of the historical spy novel. Now translated into seventeen languages, he is the bestselling author of Night Soldiers, Dark Star, The Polish Officer, The World at Night, Red Gold, Kingdom of Shadows, Blood of Victory, Dark Voyage, and The Foreign Correspondent.
More on his website (HERE)
Note: This was a library loan and reflects only my opinions!