NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
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.
Praise for Alan Furst and Midnight in Europe
“Furst never stops astounding me.”—Tom Hanks
“Furst is the best in the business.”—Vince Flynn
“Elegant, gripping . . . [Furst] remains at the top of his game.”—The New York Times
“Suspenseful and sophisticated . . . No espionage author, it seems, is better at summoning the shifting moods and emotional atmosphere of Europe before the start of World War II than Alan Furst.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Endlessly compelling . . . Furst delivers an observant, sexy, and thrilling tale set in the outskirts of World War II. In Furst’s hands, Paris once again comes alive with intrigue.”—Erik Larson
“Too much fun to put down . . . [Furst is] a master of the atmospheric thriller.”—The Boston Globe
After a slow start, this spy thriller set in 1938 from Edgar finalist Furst (Mission to Paris) settles into a lazy pace, as it charts the attempts of two part-time arms dealers, Chisti n Ferrar and Max de Lyon, to serve the Spanish Republic and its beleaguered army while most of the continent has its eye on Berlin. Every clandestine mission they undertake a prolonged quest for cannons in Poland, a nifty operation to trick Russia out of field guns and antiaircraft weaponry in Odessa is fraught with struggle, and the pro-Franco Nazi spy apparatus always seems one step ahead. A revolving cast of secondary characters leads several plotlines that peter out, heavy on atmosphere, light on action. As usual, Furst manages to capture the fragile, itinerant nature of European life during the interwar period, dropping in hints of the horror to come, but this is one of his less memorable efforts.
gradual ramp up
This one is slow to get going but worth the effort in the end.
Too much time for too little
An elongated story with few high points, this novel lacks energy, intrigue and suspense. We do get a protracted look at spy activity around the Spanish Civil War and a kind of spy's travelogue through pre- World War II Europe, but it never quite gets going. Furst knows his history but it's wasted in the service of these only serviceable characters and this strangely uninteresting tale.
A fading star
There are some lovely moments in an otherwise listless tale. Alan Furst aficionados (like me) will power through. If you don't know Furst, read his great ones first. There is a great story here, but mostly it's lost in easy writing and shallow plotting.