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The Spies of Warsaw: A Novel by Alan Furst

The Spies of Warsaw: A Novel (original 2008; edition 2008)

by Alan Furst

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8123511,220 (3.77)122
Title:The Spies of Warsaw: A Novel
Authors:Alan Furst
Info:Random House (2008), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 266 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:library book, historical fiction, spies, Europe, WWII, Poland, France

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Spies of Warsaw by Alan Furst (2008)

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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 |
Another spy novel from Furst, that I got at the Adriance Library book sale in June. It takes place in 1937. A French military attache in Warsaw, Colonel Mercier, is involved in espionage against Germany. His contact from a German company that manufactures tanks gets spooked on the train back to his home, and gives himself away. When the Germans try to abduct him on his next trip to Warsaw, Mercier foils the attempt. But, now he must try to find another way to get information about a German military exercise planned for a wooded area in Germany. Also, he tries to find a way to get information about the German military planning against France. He gets it, but his information is not believed.

A very good read. I preferred Dark Star best of the three Furst books that I have read recently. ( )
  BillPilgrim | Sep 5, 2013 |
This is a book about the shadows of war. The figure of Le Carre looms large over it. Furst has Le Carre's way with character, situation and location, but his interest is more in the oblique and uncertain. The book suffers as a consequence. Because so little is revealed the story feels like there is little at stake. This may well be part of the point but it does not really make for an especially gripping read. It feels realistic and life-like but has all the faults of that approach too. ( )
  freelancer_frank | Jul 11, 2013 |
I had heard great things about Alan Furst, and I can see why many consider him one of the finest writers of spy novels. His tale unfolds elegantly, and his character Jean-François Mercier de Boutillon is enjoyable. He is as charming in his heroic spy exploits as he is in his powerful yearning for jelly doughnuts.

I appreciated the book enough to lose some sleep reading it, but it was never very suspenseful or mysterious. I would be interested in reading some of Furst’s other novels in order to see if this is an anomaly or just his style. ( )
  theonetruesteph | Mar 30, 2013 |
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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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:05:39 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

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)

(summary from another edition)

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Alan Furst is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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