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Midnight in Europe by Alan Furst

Midnight in Europe (2014)

by Alan Furst

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I hate to say it, but Furst seems to be getting tired. This feels perfunctory.
  sonofcarc | Dec 29, 2016 |
Like many of Furst’s previous novels the subject is espionage and deceit in pre-war 1930s Europe. In a fresh departure, this one take as it’s plot the attempts by the Republican’s army to obtain weapons in order to resist the Nationalist army in the Spanish Civil War in 1937 and 1938. The main action is set in Paris, where Christian Ferrer, a Spanish lawyer, is recruited to help source weapons. His search takes him to Germany and Poland and to dangerous Russian contacts and enables Furst to explore the threatening atmosphere of the time in Europe. As usual, Furst paints an evocative picture of the period which grasps you for the course of the novel.
  camharlow2 | Sep 12, 2016 |
what? what happened to Furst? did he forget how to write? ( )
1 vote kerns222 | Aug 24, 2016 |
1938. Spain at war, Europe on the brink of war. This is the first World War Two novel I have read about the overlap of the two wars, the impact of one on the other, and the approaching shadow of fascism. Nothing happens in isolation. The Spanish Civil War is notoriously difficult to understand: so many factions, changing names etc. Sensibly, Alan Furst concentrates on one aspect: the supply of weapons to the Republicans fighting the fascist army of Franco.
A secret Spanish agency in Paris sources arms and ammunition for the Republicans. Cristián Ferrar, a Spanish lawyer living in Paris and working for a French law firm, is asked to help. Unsure what he is getting into, but resigned to help his mother country, he is soon looking over his shoulder to see if he is being followed – he doesn’t know who by, it could be the Spanish fascists, the Gestapo, the Russians. Inter-cut with Ferrar’s story are excerpts from the front line in Spain where preparations are being made to fight the Battle of the Ebro. The need for the weapons is desperate, as bullets are counted out for each soldier.
Working with an odd mixture of diplomats, gangsters and generally shady characters, Ferrar first travels to Berlin where there is a glimpse of the pre-war country which with hindsight gives us a chill. The Gestapo follows them at every step. Then there is a nail-biting train journey to Gdansk, as an arms shipment goes missing. The climax is a thrilling boat journey from Odessa to Valencia. Ferrar, is a lawyer not a spy, he is simply an ordinary man doing what he can to help. An ordinary man who is, meanwhile, having a sprinkling of love affairs which may or may not be authentic.
If you have been put off before at reading novels about the Spanish Civil War because the politics is confusing, you will enjoy this novel. The shadow of war in Europe is cast over every page, the sense of approaching doom however does not seem to affect the nightclubs of Paris, or the shops of New York where the cheerful atmosphere seems unreal. Ferrar faces moving his family from Louveciennes on the outskirts of Paris, the picturesque country west of the capital which was painted by the Impressionists, to the safety of New York.
This is the first novel by Alan Furst I have read, picked up at random in an airport bookshop. I will read many more.
Read more of my book reviews at http://www.sandradanby.com/book-reviews-a-z/ ( )
1 vote Sandradan1 | Nov 12, 2015 |
A new Alan Furst book in my to-read stack is a temptation hard to resist. His ability to evoke the thickening clouds of dread gathering over Europe in the 1930s is unsurpassed, while we, with the benefit of hindsight, would like to reach into the story and propel the characters into different directions and decisions.
This thriller concerns efforts to get weapons to the anti-Fascist forces in the Spanish Civil War, a conflict that gave the Nazis a chance to flex their military muscle on the side of Francisco Franco. The war served as a grim prelude to World War II. This is the Spain of Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls and the short stories of Julian Zabalbeascoa, the most recent, “Gernika,” published in the fall 2015 Glimmer Train.
In Furst’s novel, a Spanish lawyer working in Paris agrees to help in the arms-buy arrangements, which isn’t easy, as several countries have embargoed munitions shipments to Spain, and spies are everywhere. A little romance, too. I particularly like how Furst takes ordinary people—by that I mean people whom readers can identify with, who don’t know all the secrets of arcane martial arts or who in college did not letter in six grueling sports, including sharpshooting, of course, or who aren’t alumni of elite undercover military units—and puts them in situations that test their wits and their nerve.
I’ve read all of Furst’s books and know how he works. Yet putting myself in his hands remains a tension-filled, always interesting ride through a bitter historical time. ( )
  Vicki_Weisfeld | Nov 3, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
Mr. Furst tells galloping good stories, and “Midnight in Europe” is one of them. But he never needs to end his books on notes of tragedy. History has done the job for him.
added by melmore | editNew York Times, Janet Maslin (Jun 23, 2014)
Alan Furst’s novels have invoked glowing comparisons with Graham Greene for his idiosyncratic recreations of 1930s Europe; Midnight in Europe shows there is not the slightest diminution in his masterly command.
added by melmore | editFinancial Times, Barry Forshaw (May 23, 2014)
Furst owns the dark blanket that covers Europe between the two world wars. His latest is a satisfying, thought-provoking read.
added by melmore | editKirkus Review (May 7, 2014)
As usual, Furst manages to capture the fragile, itinerant nature of European life during the interwar period, dropping in hints of the horror to come, but this is one of his less memorable efforts.
added by melmore | editPublishers Weekly (Apr 21, 2014)
There’s a certain sense of fatedness that emerges in the 13 espionage novels Alan Furst has written about Europe before and during World War II, even if it’s never quite enunciated in their wry, reticent storytelling
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"The lamps are going out all over Europe.
We shall not see them lit again in our time."
-Sir Edward Grey,
British foreign secretary, 
on 3 August 1914, the eve
Of the First World War
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On a soft, winter evening in Manhattan, the Fifteenth of December, 1937, it started to snow; big flakes spun lazily in the sky, danced in the lights of office buildings, then melted as they hit the pavement.
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Failing to secure American support for the Republican side of the Spanish Civil War in 1938, a minor Spanish noble travels to Paris, where he promotes the Republic cause before undertaking a mission to infiltrate the Spanish government.

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