"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." (Francis Bacon)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Spies of Warsaw

TITLE: The Spies of Warsaw
AUTHOR: Alan Furst

Though not one of Furst's best, this is a solid tale of spying in Poland at the brink of the Second World War. Col. Jean-Francois Mercier, a hero during the previous war, in his role as military attache in the French embassy in Warsaw, is tasked with discovering German activities as pertain to a possible invasion of France. From cocktail parties where things that are said merely hint at things not said to cultivating workers at German factories  to spy on their bosses, Mercier is a man who spends most of his days in the shadows. A widower with grown daughters, he's also considered one of the more eligible bachelors until he meets League of Nations lawyer Anna Szarbek who is living with a Russian journalist in Warsaw.

The book is mostly episodic with no overall plot save the real life activities of Nazi Germany. The missions Mercier undertakes are thrilling in the way of true life spying, full of danger and intrigue without the chase scenes and explosions found in the more James Bond type fantasies of today's media. It's the realism against the painstakingly researched backdrop of history that makes Furst's books so good. If only there had been more plot to go with this one.

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