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

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Foreign Correspondent

TITLE: The Foreign Correspondent
AUTHOR: Alan Furst

I wouldn't call Furst's World War II-era spy novels page turners, but they are addictive. In this one, Carlo Weisz is an Italian ex-pat living in Paris, working as a journalist for the Reuters news service, and secretly writing and editing an anti-fascist newspaper distributed covertly in Italy. As if that isn't enough, the Italian secret police are trying to put an end to the underground newspaper and British Intelligence has plans for him. Even the Paris police are interested him and his fellow Italian ex-pats when the editor of Liberazione and his mistress, the wife of a prominent Frenchman, are brutally murdered in an act made to look like murder-suicide. And finally, Carlo's German girlfriend won't leave Germany despite her anti-Hitler activities putting her in danger.

There's a lot going on in this book, yet Furst takes his usual pace laying out the story, giving readers a feel of life in 1940 Europe, from the civil war in Spain, to fascist Italy, life-as-usual Paris, and tense Berlin. The civilian-enlisted-as-spy, painstakingly researched and recreated settings are Furst's stock-in-trade, yet the stories never feel old or repetitive. Carlo is an engaging protagonist trying to do the right thing for his homeland, and Furst is a skilled storyteller, a perfect combination.