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The BookBrowse Review

Published May 21, 2014

ISSN: 1930-0018

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Book Jacket

Midnight in Europe
A Novel
by Alan Furst
3 Jun 2014
272 pages
Publisher: Random House
ISBN-13: 9781400069491
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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.

"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." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Furst has illuminated moments of reluctant courage and desperate love in a world teetering on the edge of destruction. He does so again here, and, as always, he does it exquisitely." - Booklist

"A lovely book. With Midnight in Europe, Alan 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

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 directors who liked his (dreadful) first novel, Your Day in the Barrel, published by Atheneum - a book by a writer who wrote well but had nothing to write about, so he wrote a murder mystery. Three more novels followed, one worse than the last - two mysteries and a contemporary spy novel. To call him a midlist writer at this point would not really be accurate - “low list” says it better.

Moving to Bainbridge Island, he began to write for magazines, Esquire in particular, political travel pieces that foreshadowed his novels of Europe in the 1930s. Wanting to change everything, he moved full-time to Paris (and remained there for seven years), writing Night Soldiers, his first historical espionage novel, which was published by Houghton Mifflin. Publishers Weekly said of it, “Yes, it's the same person, but this novel is completely different from the previous ones.”

In Paris, he wrote the back-page column for the International Herald Tribune once a week on whatever topic he chose. Later on, when asked to be a spokesman for Absolut vodka, he wrote the copy himself, in the style of a 1940s novel.

He now lives in an old house in Sag Harbor, at the eastern end of Long Island.

The novels - really one very long book with, to date, twelve chapters - are Night Soldiers (Houghton Mifflin, 1988); Dark Star (Houghton Mifflin, 1991); The Polish Officer (Random House,1995); The World At Night (Random House, 1996); Red Gold (Random House, 1999); Kingdom of Shadows (Random House, 2000); Blood of Victory (Random House, 2002); Dark Voyage (Random House, 2004); The Foreign Correspondent (Random House, 2006); The Spies of Warsaw (Random House, 2008); Spies of the Balkans (Random House, 2010); and Mission to Paris (Random House, 2012). Kingdom of Shadows was the first of these books to appear on the New York Times bestseller list; the subsequent books appeared there as well. The Spies of Warsaw is now being made into a BBC television production, to be shown in fall 2012.

Alan Furst's novels have been translated into eighteen languages. In 2011 he received the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award, a literary prize for a body of work.

From the author's website

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