Spies of the Balkans: Book summary and reviews of Spies of the Balkans by Alan Furst

Spies of the Balkans

A Novel

By Alan Furst

Spies of the Balkans
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2010,
    288 pages.

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Book Summary

Greece, 1940. Not sunny vacation Greece: northern Greece, Macedonian Greece, Balkan Greece—the city of Salonika. In that ancient port, with its wharves and warehouses, dark lanes and Turkish mansions, brothels and tavernas, a tense political drama is being played out. On the northern border, the Greek army has blocked Mussolini’s invasion, pushing his divisions back to Albania—the first defeat suffered by the Nazis, who have conquered most of Europe. But Adolf Hitler cannot tolerate such freedom; the invasion is coming, it’s only a matter of time, and the people of Salonika can only watch and wait.

At the center of this drama is Costa Zannis, a senior police official, head of an office that handles special "political" cases. As war approaches, the spies begin to circle, from the Turkish legation to the German secret service. There’s a British travel writer, a Bulgarian undertaker, and more. Costa Zannis must deal with them all. And he is soon in the game, securing an escape route—from Berlin to Salonika, and then to a tenuous safety in Turkey, a route protected by German lawyers, Balkan detectives, and Hungarian gangsters. And hunted by the Gestapo.

Meanwhile, as war threatens, the erotic life of the city grows passionate. For Zannis, that means a British expatriate who owns the local ballet academy, a woman from the dark side of Salonika society, and the wife of a local shipping magnate.
 
Declared "an incomparable expert at his game" by The New York Times, Alan Furst outdoes even his own finest novels in this thrilling new book. With extraordinary authenticity, a superb cast of characters, and heart-stopping tension as it moves from Salonika to Paris to Berlin and back, Spies of the Balkans is a stunning novel about a man who risks everything to right—in many small ways—the world’s evil.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Furst fans will welcome seeing more books set in less familiar parts of Europe." - Publishers Weekly

"There's a scattershot quality to this Balkan imbroglio that leaves it a few notches below Furst's best work." - Kirkus Reviews

"Starred Review. Furst fans will argue about their favorite books, but the Balkan twists and turns in this masterly triumph of plotting, history, and character development will be a hit this summer." - Library Journal

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Author Information

Alan Furst Author Biography

© Shonna Valeska

Alan Furst was born and raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. An only child with older parents, he wandered alone or with friends around New York and learned to love the city and its people. He attended Oberlin College, mistakenly majoring in English, too late discovering anthropology, the proper major for a writer. After graduating, he drove a taxi in New York and wrote poetry, eventually finding work as a teaching assistant in English at the Pennsylvania State University, which led to an MA, a never-to-be-finished PhD, and a Fulbright teaching fellowship at the Université de Montpellier in southern France.

Returning to America, he went to Seattle, wanting to be away from the East Coast. In Seattle, he wrote copy for ad agencies, a well-paid freelancer supported by creative ...

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