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I.A. Serebin, an émigré writer who heads the International Russian Union and edits its literary magazine, is no stranger to war: "Two gangsters, one neighborhood, they fight," he comments at a dinner party on a yacht in the Istanbul harbor in the autumn of 1940. Istanbul, to which Serebin has come to say good-bye to a dying friend, is a haven for spies, arms dealers, diplomats, and intrigue. Like most of the author's protagonists, Serebin is a romantic, a reluctant hero who tries to believe that war will not really change anything: "Hold fast to life as it should be, the daily ritual, work, love, and then it will be" is his credo. After Paris falls to the Germans, he realizes that is impossible. When a French diplomat's wife, whom he met and bedded on the freighter that brought him to Turkey, puts him in touch with a Hungarian spy working with the British Secret Service, Serebin allows himself to be recruited for a mission to disrupt the flow of oil from Romania's Ploesti fields to German factories--something that has been tried by the British before, without success. Alan Furst, a master stylist whose novels are peopled with characters who remain in the reader's mind long after the last page is turned, evokes Istanbul's smoky, spicy, shadowy atmosphere with the same authenticity he brings to the settings of all his thrillers, most notably Paris. No one is better at describing both place and players in the period just before and during World War II; widely hailed as the successor to Eric Ambler and Graham Greene, Furst proves in his gripping, compulsively readable seventh novel what a contender he is for that title. --Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Critics who thought Furst's previous novel Kingdom of Shadows lacked a clearly linear plot will find much to praise him for in his toothsome new historical espionage thriller. The novel (named for the Romanian oil vital to the German war machine) describes a daring operation to disrupt the flow of that oil from the Ploesti fields in Romania to Germany by sinking a group of barges at a shallow point in the Danube in early 1941. The motley group attempting this maneuver barely holds together: its members include a sultry French aristocrat, hounded Russian Jews, even Serbian thugs. And while the tale features the same period details as its predecessor, and stretches from Istanbul to Bucharest with detours in Paris and London, it reaffirms the signature Slavic focus of the author's earlier books like Dark Star. This is literally personified in the novel's protagonist, the dogged Russian migr I.A. Serebin, who has to dodge every kind of secret police from the Gestapo to Stalin's NKVD (" `Why, Serge?' `Why not?' That was, Serebin thought, glib and ingenuous, but until a better two-word history of the USSR came along, it would do"). Diehard Furst fans will appreciate the recurrence of several secondary characters from Kingdom of Shadows (especially a certain heavyset Hungarian spymaster). But even newcomers will be ensnared by Furst's delicious recreations of a world sliding headlong into oblivion (wonderfully illustrated by Serebin having to drive a car off a cliff to escape with his life at the climax). Maps.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Very slow reading. Drawn out. Not much of a story until towards the endPublished 14 days ago by Fred Greenberg
Accurate history, well defined geography provide excellent canvas for a ripping good adventure story. I have traveled in many of the locations described. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Patricia White
I am, as a rule, a big fan of Alan Furst, many of whose novels I have read and very much enjoyed. But this book I found dull: strangely, it was both repititious and hard to... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Kindle Customer
Furst is a first rate writer, creative, droll, enlightening. The reader dwells in the place he creates, experiences rather than looks on.Published 5 months ago by Lois Mathieu
Furst is first rate. Novels of the Thirties in Europe as the World War builds. Wonderful characters.Published 5 months ago by e s r