The Spies of Warsaw

The Spies of Warsaw, by Alan Furst, is not your high-powered spy novel with chase scenes, torture, derring-do etc. More of a slow burn during the run-up to the Second World War, which is true to the Furst style. The plot revolves around a French embassy attache who recruits spies in Warsaw and pries information from the Germans in clever ways. Furst has been paring his style over the years, giving the reader fewer words, which concerns me a little as the sparseness now borders on frugality. I wouldn’t mind if he painted the pictures with a little more detail now and then. Still, a decent read about the ups and downs of people in tight spots doing tough jobs. 

Colonel Mercier was in the Great War, but unlike his relatives and ancestors, he would like to live through the next one. Thus, he’s careful about his operations and when they go wrong, does his best to correct the situation. He’s not immune from a past heartbreak and finds himself drawn to a woman who plays the game as well as he does. Through all this, the Germans are up to no good, the French General Staff denying reality, and people on the ground like Mercier are making the best of it. 

My hope is that Furst fleshes out his future books a little more than this one, which could have benefitted from some of the scene-setting that can be found in Night Soldiers.

Published in: on December 17, 2008 at 4:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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