Saturday, January 24, 2009

Alan Furst Does It Again – “The Spies of Warsaw”

I was thrilled when I learned that Alan Furst had written a new novel. I soak up everything he writes. In my view, he stands alongside John Le Carre and Robert Ludlum as a master in weaving together tales of espionage in the pre-WWII and post-WWII worlds of intrigue, mystery and danger.

For previous White Rhino Report reviews of other Furst novels, follow this link:

Previous Furst Reviews

Furst paints with a dark palette of words and images, and the worlds and characters that he creates are all the more intriguing because of the chiaroscuro of his world view and descriptions. I marvel at the skill and artistry with which he sets the scene of the building storm clouds of war that were gathering over Poland in the 1930’s. Here are the opening lines to “The Spies of Warsaw”:

“In the dying light of an autumn day in 1937, a certain Herr Edvard Uhl, a secret agent, descended from a first-class railway car in the city of Warsaw. Above the city, the sky was at war; the last of the sun struck blood-red embers off massed black cloud, while the clear horizon to the west was the color of blue ice. Herr Uhl suppressed a shiver; the sharp air of the evening, he told himself. But this was Poland, the border of the Russian steppe, and what had reached him was well beyond the chill of an October twilight.” (Page 3)

The book continues by laying out a masterful saga of how those gathering storm clouds impacted the micro-climate of a small band of Polish, French and Russian characters all trying to find shelter from the coming storm and storm troopers.

May God grant Alan Furst the strength and health and imagination to continue offering these kinds of compelling tales well into the next several decades.



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