Paris, Moscow, Berlin, and Prague, 1937. In the back alleys of nighttime Europe, war is already under the way.. André Szara, survivor of the Polish pogroms and the Russian civil wars and a foreign correspondent for Pravda, is co-opted by the NKVD, the Soviet secret intelligence service, and becomes a full-time spymaster in Paris. As deputy director of a Paris network, Szara finds his own star rising when he recruits an agent in Berlin who can supply crucial information.
(Edited description taken from the author's website.)
This is excellent storytelling and a five-star book for much of it. Because the ending, the last forty pages or so, is sort of dragged out, I'm giving it four/four and a half stars, instead of the five stars I had assigned to it for much of the book.
In his first book, Night Soldiers, Furst re-created the European world of 1934-1945: the struggle between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia for Eastern Europe, the last desperate gaiety of beau monde in 1937 Paris, and guerrilla operations with the French underground in 1944.
In this book, Furst zeros in on this chaos in Germany and in the Soviet Union, the chaos of the German takeover of Czechoslovakia, the chaos of the Anschluss, the chaos of the invasion of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union, the chaos of the aftermath, all seen through the eyes and experiences of André Szara.
In his next book, The Polish Officer, which I'm definitely going to read, I imagine that Furst will delve more deeply into that invasion of Poland.
Amazingly good. Adept craft, engrossing nuanced storyline, a full-on look at human behavior in the darkest of times.
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