Tuesday, June 04, 2019

34. Midnight in Europe by Alan Furst

This was a very nice palate cleanser after a few more difficult reads.  It is a middle-aged pre-WWII espionage fantasy for the sophisticated male, artfully written and absorbing, with great details, but ultimately light and unchallenging.  Coming from me, this is not a criticism.  I expected something a little darker and jarring, as an oncoming fascist takeover of the world tends to deliver.  Everything here is smooth sailing.  Cristian Ferrar is a Spanish ex-pat and successful lawyer in Paris at the end of the 1930s.  He flies to New York from time to time and has pretty cool love affairs there and in Paris.  He slowly gets drawn in to espionage in support of Republican Spain and this leads him on various adventures, each a pretty cool little spy vignette with great locations, characters and neat little details.  This was all thoroughly enjoyable for someone who is a fan of the period and genre.  It is very skillfully written, digestible without being overly simplistic.  The actual history is interspersed as well in a way that despite the lightness of the whole affair, does not fail to remind us of how awful we can be and how bad things got.  I think in another time, this book could be consumed entirely guilt-free, but given the all-too familiar shadow of fascism menacing the early 21st century, I think that current authors of this period need to deliver a bit more bite.  That being said, I am happy that he has quite a few other books out there waiting for me the next time I need such a pleasant diversion.

Note, I picked this up for a dollar at the book sale of the Grande Bibliotheque.  It along with another copy of the same book were being retired from circulation.

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