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Often compared to Graham Greene and Eric Ambler, Alan Furst is a master of the spy thriller and one of the great war novelists of our time. He is the author of Night Soldiers, Dark Star, The Polish Officer, and The World at Night. He lives in Sag Harbor, New York. From the Hardcover edition.
Veteran novelist Furst's second effort featuring former film producer Jean Casson is just as good as his first (The World at Night, LJ 5/15/96) and exerts the marvelous emotional pull of a world-weary postwar French film. The time is 1941; the place, occupied Paris. Reluctantly, Casson becomes involved in the French Resistance as an intermediary between feuding factions of partisans. An associate exclaims, "Well, Casson, you're in luck.... You may not have found patriotism, but it appears...to have found you." Communists and loyalists jockey for advantage against each other; no one trusts anyone. Casson is a wonderful character under pressure, outwardly cynical but intensely romantic at heart. An officer asks, "What's Casson like?" The response: "Intelligent, a good heart, some professional success, some failure." Comparison with Eric Ambler and Graham Greene is inevitable. A classy thriller, strong on mood and action; highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/98.]‘David Keymer, California State Univ., Stanislaus
From the atmosphere established in his fifth novel's first sentence ("Casson woke in a room in a cheap hotel and smoked his last cigarette") to the knock on the door at the denouement, Furst again proves himself the master of his chosen terrain‘behind the lines of Nazi occupation in France during WWII. His previous novel, The World at Night, opened in May 1940, with French film producer Jean Casson setting out to take newsreels of the defense of France's Maginot line and becoming swamped in the German invasion. It is now September 1941, and Casson, broke and hiding under a false name, is about to commit fully to the Resistance. As a man of indeterminate political affiliation, he's chosen to negotiate between the Resistance and the French Communists, who, with the German army on the verge of taking Moscow, have orders from Stalin to sabotage the Nazis in any way possible. The "red gold" SS looters try to steal in Russia is a metaphoric payment in blood, while in Paris informers are everywhere and collaboration is still rampant. Furst's textured plot‘exhibiting shifting loyalties and betrayals; lone, often hopeless acts of heroism; and lovers bravely parting‘makes for spellbinding drama. (In one scene, a clandestine radio operator broadcasts a few moments too long, and hears soldiers' boots racing up the stairs to get him.) Furst, who deserves the comparisons he's earned to Graham Greene and Eric Ambler, seems to be settling into a franchise here, rather than reaching for the fire he caught in his third novel, The Polish Officer. Casson's story unfolds convincingly, however, and as it continues here to April of 1942, promises a few more episodes to come from this author's tried and true brand of masterfully detailed espionage. (Apr.)
"Nothing can be like watching Casablanca for the first time, but Furst comes closer than anyone has in years." --Time "What the espionage novels of John le Carrï¿½ were for the Cold War, those of Alan Furst have become for the period that might be called 'the Sable Decade.'...Furst may have no peer in his ability to re-create the atmosphere of the nether world of continental Europe during the war years." --St. Louis Post-Dispatch "Red Gold transports a reader back to a cowed Paris, darkened by the menacing ambience of World War II." --William Nicholson, USA Today