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The Spies of Warsaw (Basic) Hardcover – Large Print, June 1, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Furst (The Foreign Correspondent) solidifies his status as a master of historical spy fiction with this compelling thriller set in 1937 Poland. Col. Jean-François Mercier, a military attaché at the French embassy in Warsaw who runs a network of spies, plays a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with his German adversaries. When one of Mercier's main agents, Edvard Uhl, an engineer at a large Düsseldorf arms manufacturer who's been a valuable source on the Nazis' new weapons, becomes concerned that the Gestapo is on to him, Mercier initially dismisses Uhl's fears. Mercier soon realizes that the risk to his spy is genuine, and he's forced to scramble to save Uhl's life. The colonel himself later takes to the field when he hears reports that the German army is conducting maneuvers in forested terrain. Even readers familiar with the Germans' attack through the Ardennes in 1940 will find the plot suspenseful. As ever, Furst excels at creating plausible characters and in conveying the mostly tedious routines of real espionage. Author tour. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From Bookmarks Magazine
With The Spies of Warsaw, Furst continues to assert himself as the contemporary master of historical espionage. Although he has condensed his vision in recent efforts, Furst’s latest combines a relentless verisimilitude with intricate plotting and well-drawn characters. That attention to character, however, was a double-edged sword for critics: too much character development, and the plot suffers; too many plot twists, and the characters become cardboard cutouts. By creating atmospheric, complex, and often open-ended novels that reflect the ambivalence of the period and the humanity of characters who are too often lost to history, Furst gets high marks for remaining true to his original intention when he began writing historical espionage two decades ago.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
For the curious, the recent David Tennant movie called Spies of Warsaw covered the incidents in this novel plus a borrowing from the first part of The Polish Officer. The movie has real location scenery (it's not all CGI), so you might want to rent it sometime to have some visual referents. Not that it isn't a good movie on its own; it is. I mention it here because it was the thing that led me to Furst's books, and I am so glad it did.
Alan Furst has made his career in espionage novels. His haunts are the more obscure European countries and his heroes are the average, working spies. "The Spies of Warsaw" fits his pattern. There are no master spies or high level conspiracies. Just an ordinary military attache at work in the charged atmosphere of pre-war Poland.
This is Alan Furst's tenth espionage novel and "Spies of Warsaw" is one his better books. He is a very strong writer who spends a lot of time on historical research. Furst fills this novel with all the rich details that allows him to recreate Warsaw in the late 1930's.
The greatest writer of these types of espionage tales is the remarkable English writer, Eric Ambler. He wrote great espionage novels in the late 1930's during the rise of facism in Europe. Through his many fine novels, Alan Furst has become the inheritor of Eric Ambler's legacy. "The Spies of Warsaw" is another great addition to Furst's body of work. Highly recommended.
This book, for me, unfolds much too slowly. I appreciate the author’s description of tradecraft and his skill at character development. Throughout, I never got the feeling of building momentum to a climax at the finish.
The Spies of Warsaw is a good story, but, it failed to capture my interest in the way I anticipated.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Novel was repetitive, out of date. Love scenes were boring--so was main character.