19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Mission to Paris: A Novel (Hardcover)
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Let me state for the record that I am a huge Furst fan. I've read everyone of his novels and have reviewed several of them for Amazon. His track record is excellent, his scope narrow, his knowledge and erudition deep. Which is why I looked forward to Mission to Paris, and why I was a bit disappointed with the result.
As any fan of Furst knows, his settings are always just prior to the Second World War, always in Paris and in the border countries - Poland, Romania, Hungary, Greece - that felt the first tremors of the war and would suffer during the war. In the past, Furst's protagonists have been everymen, people who were called on to do something to stem the tide of Fascism. In many cases their stories are what paced the novels. In Mission to Paris, the protagonist is a famous US movie star, making a movie about the first world war in Paris and in Hungary. He is called on to provide intelligence and to obtain intelligence, so he becomes a semi-official spy. Since his role is so public and so identifiable, the traditional "everyman" characters that usually lead a Furst novel are missing. Some of the mystery and suspense of a typical Furst novel is missing, because it is somewhat implausible that an American actor could become a spy in Europe.
Perhaps my favorite scene is when the protagonist and several Hungarian confederates go to ambush an expected Nazi attack. One of the Hungarians hands the actor a pistol and asks if he's used one. Only in the movies, he replies. And, in the end, that's what this book feels like - a movie about an actor who is playing as a spy, rather than a man who is truly being hunted, putting his life on the line, which is what has been so compelling about the other Furst novels.
If you are a Furst fan, everything is here - Paris, the restaurant with the bullet holes, duplicitous officials preparing for the fall of their countries, simple but bold partisans who love their countries and fear fascists. What's missing is a protagonist who is in over his head, with a price on his head, doing his best to survive.