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The Spies of Warsaw by Alan Furst
  

The Spies of Warsaw

Action Adventure / Spy   Books of the Month   Historical Fiction   Literary Fiction   eBook Favourites   eBook Favourites   

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May 2009 Book of the Month.

This is a great novel of spies and espionage in Warsaw just before the start of World War II. With Furst doing what he does best there is plenty of action, betrayal and intrigue along with the inevitable romance thrown in to the mix too. A gripping and suspense-filled story that we can easily imagine being made in to a film.

If you like Alan Furst you might also like to read books by Martin Cruz Smith, Robert Wilson and Dan Fesperman.

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Synopsis

The Spies of Warsaw by Alan Furst

An Autumn evening in 1937. A German engineer arrives at the Warsaw railway station. Tonight, he will be with his Polish mistress; tomorrow, at a workers' bar in the city's factory district, he will meet with the military attaché from the French embassy. Information will be exchanged for money.

So begins THE SPIES OF WARSAW, with war coming to Europe, and French and German operatives locked in a life-and-death struggle on the espionage battlefield. At the French embassy, the new military attaché, Colonel Jean-Francois Mercier, a decorated hero of the 1914 war, is drawn in to a world of abduction, betrayal and intrigue in the diplomatic salons and back alleys of Warsaw. At the same time, the handsome aristocrat finds himself in a passionate love affair with a Parisian woman of Polish heritage, a lawyer for the League of Nations.

Colonel Mercier must work in the shadows, amidst an extraordinary cast of venal and dangerous characters - Colonel Anton Vyborg of Polish military intelligence, last seen in Furst's THE POLISH OFFICER; the mysterious and sophisticated Doctor Lapp, senior German Abwehr officer in Warsaw; Malka and Viktor Rozen, at work for the Russian secret service; and Mercier's brutal and vindictive opponent, Major August Voss of SS counterintelligence. And there are many more, some known to Mercier as spies, some never to be revealed.

Reviews

'[Furst's] stories combine keen deductive precision with much deeper, more turbulent and impassioned aspects of character Mr. Furst is an incomparable expert at this game.' NEW YORK TIMES

'Furst's tales... are infused with the melancholy romanticism of Casablanca, and also a touch of Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon.' THE SCOTSMAN

'Furst's latest excellent spy thriller... so elegant and genteel - beautfully written... your heart will be pounding with tension.' THE GUARDIAN

'Throughout, the author's delight in the process of espionage shines through' TLS

'Furst's uncanny gift for place and period lift his city, and its dubious cast of characters, well above the espionage norm.' Boyd Tonkin, THE INDEPENDENT

About the Author

Alan Furst

Alan Furst is widely recognised as the master of the historical spy novel. Now translated into eighteen languages, he is the author of fourteen novels including MIDNIGHT IN EUROPE, SPIES OF THE BALKANS - a TV Book Club choice - THE SPIES OF WARSAW, which became a BBC mini-series starring David Tennant and THE FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT. Born in New York, he lived for many years in Paris, and now lives on Long Island.

Below is a Q & A with this author.

Who's your favourite author?
I've got a lot of favourites, but my favourite favourite is Anthony Powell – his insight and technical magic are just beyond good. He is for me a real pleasure. I grew up with John Steinbeck and especially Bernard Malamud, I also like Von Rezzori (not all of it, but most), Joseph Roth, Primo Levi, Eric Ambler, of course, some Graham Greene, Mary Renault as a historical novelist, and I must include George MacDonald Fraser.

What's the first book you remember reading?
I can't remember whether it was The Wind in the Willows, Babar or something else. I remember Ratty and Moley, and Celeste – I can also remember reading "boys' books" which were hand-me-downs from the 1940s.

Where do you live? And why?
Sag Harbor, New York, six miles from the ocean, where the beaches are deserted for most of the year and the dog can run. It's beautiful here, but my heart's in Paris, so I go there when I'm able.

Where do you write?
I write in a converted 1930s garage with French doors and an old brick floor, looking out onto a garden.

Typewriter, word processor or pen?
Typewriter, a Lexmark personal wheelwriter, descendant of the mighty IBM Selectric.

Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, then refugee country (see Isaac Bashevis Singer and Bernard Malamud), now celebrated.

How many brothers and sisters do you have? Is anyone else in your family a writer?
No brothers and no sisters, I was a very late-in-life kid. We have no writers in the family; we were not well educated. It was pretty much high school and that was it.

Did you enjoy school? What is your most vivid memory of your school years?
I didn't like school much. I liked a few teachers and liked my friends, who taught me what I needed to know and told me what to read.

Did you always want to be an author? If not, what did you originally want to be and when and why did you change your mind? I've been a writer since the age of nine, never anything else, really. I changed my mind with a thunderclap about what to write after four books. I started as a poet – very serious about that; wrote a novel which I thought was a potboiler but wasn't. It didn't boil the pot and was estimably, to my astonishment, published.

What were the first pieces of writing that you produced? e.g. short stories, school magazine etc. My first writing was for school newspapers, then for a literary magazine in college, although actually I wrote stuff for myself earlier. I wrote non-fiction to survive, for Esquire and for International Herald Tribune amongst others. I also wrote ad copy to survive in my twenties and that was really good for me – it had to be right – and fast.

What jobs did you have before you started writing?
All the dust-jacket jobs: factory worker (summers in high school and college), fruit-picker, hay-bale bucker, taxi driver in New York, like that.

How do you write each novel, i.e. do you block out the narrative first, take each page at a time, create the central character, build a cast of characters?
I try to block out the novels, although I'm never successful. My outlines last 60 pages if I'm lucky, and after that it's up to my characters. Thank God for them, they know what needs to be done, and how to have a good time when they're not doing it.

What is a typical writing day?
Up at 5.30, work till noon or I've reached 500 words, two pages, whichever is first. Just like Ernest Hemingway said to do.

Have you started your next book? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
The new book is well under way: The Foreign Correspondent, about Italian anti-fascist émigrés in Paris in 1939 and the clandestine press.

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Book Info

Publication date

3rd January 2009

Author

Alan Furst

More books by Alan Furst
Author 'Like for Like'
    recommendations

Author's Website

alanfurst.net/index.htm

Publisher

Orion Publishing Co

Format

Paperback
352 pages

Categories

Action Adventure / Spy
Books of the Month
Historical Fiction
Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites
eBook Favourites

Espionage & spy thriller

ISBN

9780753825648

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