A few weeks back when I reviewed Alan Furst’s Midnight in Europe I told you I’d be reading more of his novels. Therefore, what did I grab during one of my recent trips to the public library but a copy of his 2008 novel The Spies of Warsaw. I mean come on, after having so much fun reading Midnight in Europe what choice, if any, did I really have? I simply had to have it. After whipping through it fairly quickly, just like I did with Midnight in Europe, I’m happy I read it. While I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did Midnight in Europe, it’s nevertheless a fun, intelligent and relatively fast paced historical thriller. Just as I would expect from Mr. Furst.
Set in 1937, and a year before Midnight in Europe, Furst’s novel follows the adventures of Colonel Jean-Francois Mercier, a military attaché recently assigned to the French embassy in Warsaw. Officially there to represent France’s military interests in Poland, when not keeping an eye on German military developments he’s also a spy handler. One such spy under his tutelage is a German armaments engineer who supplies him from time to time with technical information on the Wehrmacht’s tanks. He’s also been tasked with observing Soviet operations in Poland, and as a result finds himself drawn towards a husband and wife team assumed by those in the know of being Russian agents. Did I mention there’s a bit of a love interest, too?
In opted to include The Spies of Warsaw in the Pan-European Lives series because even though the bulk of the novel is set in Poland, some of it takes place in France, Germany, Yugoslavia, Switzerland and Czechoslovakia. Spreading the action around a wider area helps keep things interesting and it’s a technique I’m hoping to encounter more of as I begin to make my way through Furst’s body of work.
My only gripe is a minor one. Compared to his newest book Midnight in Europe, The Spies of Warsaw feels a little less action packed. It also lacks the slightly leaner prose of Midnight in Europe. But who cares, I enjoyed it. And trust, me I’ll be reading more of Furst’s novels. (I might even check out the BBC miniseries starring David Tennant of Dr. Who fame.) Therefore, this won’t be the last post you see on this blog about an Alan Furst novel.