Furst in War

Cover of "Kingdom of Shadows"

Cover of Kingdom of Shadows

I am a huge, huge, huge-huge-nerdgasm-huge fan of Alan Furst, who writes determinedly elegant spy novels set mainly in the ominous years before World War II. Furst’s ten series novels, which reach a kind of apotheosis in the suave, riveting, poetic Kingdom of Shadows, delve into the many tangled and murky efforts to resist fascism and short-circuit the Nazi war build-up. Their characters tend to hold many euphemism-laden conversations in cafes located in unfashionable Parisian arrondisements and conduct tense man-shadowing operations on Eastern European public transit—that sort of thing. The most recent installment, The Spies of Warsaw, is a very good one, with a tough-but-gentle, cultured, sexy, middle-aged French nobleman with a complicated military intelligence brief at center stage. The fact that almost all of Furst’s protagonists are tough-but-gentle, cultured, sexy, middle-aged men (not always, but often, aristocrats) only underscores the fact that he is a very strong genre writer: the kind who creates a world readers want to go back to again and again even though every one of his books is, basically, the same.

For a writer with a strong following, Furst’s Web presence is a bit sparse. So I was excited to see The Stranger‘s Paul Constant drop a full Q & A with the man this week. Constant, by the way, is one of the liveliest and most committed books journalists working now—and The Stranger deserves a ton of credit for giving him rein. Do yourself a summer-reading favor and check both these guys out.

About zachdundas

Freelance journalist. Author of The Renegade Sportsman (Riverhead Books). Thank you.
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