BookBrowse Reviews Mission to Paris by Alan Furst

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Mission to Paris

A Novel

by Alan Furst

Mission to Paris by Alan Furst X
Mission to Paris by Alan Furst
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2012, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2013, 272 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Karen Rigby

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


In 1938 Europe, a Hollywood movie star-turned-spy braves the ominous environs of the Third Reich

Known for writing spy novels based in Europe during the '30s and '40s, Alan Furst has remarked, "In that period of time, there was real villainy and real heroism. The world was embroiled in it, and it didn't let anyone off the hook." In Mission to Paris, he returns to the cities and themes that have often figured in his work, combining movie-making with fictional actor Frederic Stahl's dabble in espionage - an unexpected task that leads the Viennese-born Paramount star to glimpse Kristallnacht, among other disturbing events, and to mingle with characters that range from an accomplished female spy to intellectual émigrés.

Stahl, who has been targeted by Nazi officials for the likelihood of his drawing the media in France, gathers information regarding Germany's impending plans in Europe (Poland especially) that may prove useful to the White House. Specifics remain shadowy; even Stahl is not entirely aware of what these plans entail despite several meetings with the embassy contact who first proposed the work. For most readers, however, behind-the-scenes political maneuverings may be less critical to the plot than the cumulative tension of living under surveillance. Furst brilliantly recreates the ominous environs, describing Paris, Berlin, and other locales just before the appeasement of Hitler via the Munich Agreement in September 1938 through the outbreak of the war. Between the risks of border-crossing, one character's struggle with the Gestapo, murder, and street disturbances, Mission to Paris is rife with examples of the strain both ordinary and high-profile people endured.

Furst shuttles between two narrative threads - shooting a film plagued by problems and working undercover - in ways that effectively highlight the challenges of moving freely. That both acting and spying require similar talents, from dissembling emotions to persuading others, is not only clever but necessary. Both plot lines meld when Stahl is coerced into serving as a judge for a German film festival, during which time the mindset of the German officials he encounters becomes ever more apparent and disturbing.

Not every plot twist is dark, however. Interludes befitting of Golden Era films weave throughout, replete with witty banter as well as heroic gestures. And one can hardly fault the author for creating a romantic oasis amid an increasingly suspect world. The result is an engrossing examination of one man's willingness to brave the Third Reich's cinema circle and a portrayal of weathering danger for the sake of others.

Reviewed by Karen Rigby

This review was originally published in July 2012, and has been updated for the June 2013 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Parisian Highlights

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Call Me American
    Call Me American
    by Abdi Nor Iftin
    As a boy growing up in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, Abdi Nor Iftin loved watching action ...
  • Book Jacket
    Driving Miss Norma
    by Ramie Liddle, Tim Bauerschmidt
    In my cultural life, I've met and been awed by two Normas: The demanding, clueless, fiercely ...
  • Book Jacket
    Driving Miss Norma
    by Ramie Liddle, Tim Bauerschmidt
    In my cultural life, I've met and been awed by two Normas: The demanding, clueless, fiercely ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Last Ballad
    by Wiley Cash
    A hundred years ago or so, farming land west of Charlotte, North Carolina was given over to giant ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Salt Houses by Hala Alyan

From a dazzling new literary voice, a debut novel about a Palestinian family caught between present and past.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    A Place for Us
    by Fatima Farheen Mirza

    A deeply moving story of love, identity and belonging--the first novel from Sarah Jessica Parker's new imprint.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win If You See Me, Don't Say Hi

If You See Me, Don't Say Hi by Neel Patel

Patel's stories introduce a bold and timely new literary voice.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A P Saved I A P E

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.