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Spies of Warsaw by Alan Furst

Spies of Warsaw (2008)

by Alan Furst

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Much less dark and atmospheric than Furst's other work. I was able to follow the plot much better than usual. Everything you expect from a Night Soldiers series book. Very enjoyable read. ( )
  gpaisley | Jun 18, 2016 |
Review: The Spies of Warsaw by Alan Furst.

This is beautifully crafted story that works well on several levels and like all good fiction it captures the right amount of views on human character, capacity and idiosyncrasy. Furst’s heroes are usually ordinary people who get into spying for very personal reasons but in this book he uses the characters as full or part time spies. His ability to create suspense with believable characters in believable situations is fulfilled to satisfy the reader. The subject of this novel is the combination of the community of military and political spies, logical analysts, and the intelligence gathered in Warsaw around 1939-38.
The focus is on LT. Jean-Francois Mercier, a French military official diplomat and a combat veteran.

In the Autumn of 1937 the German people are bitter about their conquest during the First World War and Adolph Hitler was promising them revenge. As the story opens Lt. Mercier job description is that of chief intelligence officer gathering information on German armament weapon programs and then he moves on to focusing on German tank building, strategy, and deployment. As a spy for the French embassy in Warsaw, Lt. Mercier traveled from Paris, the South of France through Belgrade, Berlin, on to Czechoslovakia and other various places by airplanes, trains, and cars which suited his schedule admirably. Mercier’s daily actions are often distasteful and sometimes seen futile but when it comes to his work he portrays strength, honor, and courage through the perils of his occupation to oblige heroically for his country. As a spy he scrambles for information, trust virtually no one, he pores over casual conversations for possible hidden meanings, and routinely practices deception.

At the end Lt. Mercier becomes involved in spiriting two old Bolshevik Russian-Jewish operatives out of Poland, just ahead of Stalin’s communism militants and he helps an anti-Nazi go underground. The ending was a surprise and I felt Lt. Mercier’s was not appreciated for what he done. I guess being a spy is a catch-22 occupation….I guess you’ll have to read it to see what I mean…but I still enjoyed the book.

The reader gets to meet French and German aristocrats, bartenders, prostitutes, soldiers, workers and more spies many who are memorable minor characters but notable and the reader is also taken through evocative descriptive cities, forest, and the stillness of the country area. Plus, there’s always action and adventure whenever you turn the pages of an espionage novel. Alan Furst doesn’t leave anything unjustified as a writer but I found this book a little less complying to some of his other books but still a good read.
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  Juan-banjo | May 31, 2016 |
Alan Furst's hero's are all worldly wise men of a certain age and the hero of The Spies of Warsaw is no exception. Colonel Jean-Francois Mercier is an aristocratic Frenchman: a widower and decorated hero of the First World War who is the military attache to the French Embassy in Warsaw. In this capacity he is immersed in the shadowy world of spies and counter-spies who operated in Mittel Europe in the years leading up to the start of the Second World War.,And, as usual in Furst's novels, our hero has a love interest - a good looking and passionate lawyer for the League of Nations.

Mercier learns that loyalties are not set in stone in this environment and also that his own government leaves a lot to be desired in the ethics department. His various adventures with a German arms engineer, a pair of Soviet spies on the outs with Stalin,a German counter spy who hates Hitler and, of course, his own personal ambitions are realistically told and kept me quickly turning the pages.

I find that when it comes to noir thrillers, you just cannot go wrong wth Alan Furst. ( )
  etxgardener | Jun 26, 2015 |
I have previously reviewed this author's Spies of the Balkans and been largely unimpressed, finding it a too-slick, formulaic spy drama with an impossibly talented protagonist, teflon-plated and instantly sending all women into swooning ecstasy. Spies of Warsaw is somewhat of an improvement, the hero is more human and more vulnerable, and his love affair is a more measured and realistic happening, but it still suffers from the same slick, unengaging feel. I never really felt any attachment to the characters, there is no real tension, and the writer once again has an annoying habit of setting up potential drama and then letting it fall flat without anything exciting happening. I suppose you could argue that this is actually a sort of realism, and that spies in real life conduct many operations without serious gunplay or violence developing, but this is supposed to be a spy thriller after all, so I am wrong to expect thrills? I've just concluded that this author's style is not for me, although I presume he must have many fans, because his numerous books are displayed very prominently in a place of pride in my local mystery/sci fi bookshop, always a sure sign of a bestseller. Good luck to him, but I'll be looking elsewhere for my spy fix from now on. ( )
  drmaf | Mar 24, 2014 |
Once again, Alan Furst, has written a novel that captures the tension and suspicion of the late 1930s in Europe in the period leading up to the start of the Second World War. This book is mainly set in Poland as its title reveals. Its main character is a French military attaché, Jean-Francois Mercier, as he attempts to discover German plans for a possible invasion of France and his frustrations at not being able to convince his superiors that the information he unearths indicates that the attack will be through Belgium, thus bypassing the heavily fortified Maginot Line of French defences. Mercier is a believably drawn, a former war hero, but now handicapped by injuries, so limited in his response to physical violence.
  camharlow2 | Mar 20, 2014 |
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In the dying light of an autumn day in 1937, a certain Herr Edvard Uhl a secret agent, descended from a first-class railway carriage in the city of Warsaw.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812977378, Paperback)

War is coming to Europe. French and German intelligence operatives are locked in a life-and-death struggle on the espionage battlefield. At the French embassy, in Warsaw, the new military attaché, Colonel Jean-François Mercier, a decorated hero of the 1914 war, is drawn into a world of abduction, betrayal, and intrigue in the diplomatic salons and back alleys of the city. 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. Risking his life, Colonel Mercier must work in the shadows, amid an extraordinary cast of venal characters, some known to Mercier as spies, some never to be revealed.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:31 -0400)

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A French aristocrat working as a military attache at the French embassy in Warsaw in 1937 tries to gather information for Poland and France, wondering what move Germany will make next. Romantic sparks fly between the French aristocrat's cousin and a Franco-Polish woman who works as a lawyer for The League of Nations, all against the backdrop of Hitler's gathering war.… (more)

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