Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Midnight in Europe - Alan Furst


I'd seen the TV version of The Spies of Warsaw, which I liked a lot, but I hadn't read Alan Furst until I came across this, his latest, in my local library.  It takes a while to get the tone, and I was worried at first that we seemed to be spending undue time with characters who clearly weren't going further.  But the main characters, Cristian Ferrar, Spanish ex-pat, living in Paris and partner in a prestigious New York law firm, and Max de Lyon, stateless soldier of fortune, are immensely likeable and multi-faceted.  There are no real villains - the villain is Fascism, in Spain for this novel but looming on the horizon for everyone when midnight turns in Europe.  The 1938 flavour seeps through every descriptive passage.  Nothing jarred against my eye or ear, and that's all a period novel has to achieve.  I liked the comparatively short length - 250 pages in the hardback.  Far too often novels in this eve-of-war espionage genre go on far too long.  Furst's economy of style means nothing wasted, nothing superfluous, and leaves you wanting more.  I certainly do.  The plotting which worried at me to begin with turned out to be a stroke of genius, and by no means the only one.  Highly recommended.

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