First, Alan. Spies of Warsaw. New York: Random House, 2008.
Reason read: Furst was born in February; read in his honor.
The year is 1937 and German-born engineer, Edvard Uhl, finds himself caught up in smuggling German industrial plans relating to armament and arms. Like joining a gang, Edvard is drawn deeper and deeper into the fold. The tightening entanglement causes Uhl to become more and more paranoid about being exposed. But how to get out? This is how The Spies of Warsaw begins but it is not about Edvard. He is just a pawn; one little cog in the world of espionage. The real protagonist is Colonel Jean-Francois Mercier, military attaché to the French Embassy. War is eminent and the stakes couldn’t be higher in the struggle for intel. Mercier, familiar with war as a decorated 1914 veteran, must make his moves carefully. One never knows who is counterintelligence and who is an ally. Who is a betrayer? In the midst of the political drama, Furst gives Mercier a love interest. Anna’s role is not to lighten the story but to add another layer of tension and mystery. While the book only covers seven months before World War II, the shadowy sense of place is heavy across Poland, Germany, and France.
As an aside, I particularly liked the train scenes: travelers waiting on the platform with the falling snow and paranoia circling in equal amounts.
Author fact: Furst has been compared to John le Carre.
Book trivia: Spies of Warsaw was made into a television drama for the BBC
Nancy said: Pearl said Furst’s novels are “great for their splendid sense of place – World War II Eastern Europe” (p 183).
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Polish Up Your Polish” (p 181).