Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Spies of Warsaw by Alan Furst

Furst is master of the historical spy novel.  This one is set in pre-war Warsaw where Jean-Francois Mercier de Boutillon is an attache with the French Embassy and a secret spy master.

The operations that Mercier is asked to carry out are all in an effort by the anti-Petain forces in the French miliary to prove that the Germans plan to move against France by bringing tanks across Belgium.  He watches tank war games in the woods of southern Germany, enlists a German resistance member to get documents that end up supporting the German command's intentions, and helps an old-guard Russian spy couple to defect.  In the mean time, he finds his true love, Anna, an attorney in Warsaw.

The story may be fiction, but the history is accurate.  It is frustrating to see how the French high command was coopted by those who did not want to believe what they could see with their own eyes, or secretly wanted an alliance with Hitler against Russia.  France let the events that led to World War II unfold with little resistance until it was too late.

Furst is an outstanding espionage writer, and I look forward to both his future work and to picking up some of his previous works.

Liz Nichols

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