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For their purposes, Fredric Stahl is a perfect agent of influence, and they attack him. What they don't know is that Stahl, horrified by the Nazi war on Jews and intellectuals, has become part of an informal spy service being run out of the American embassy in Paris.
From Alan Furst, the bestselling author, often praised as the best spy novelist ever, comes a novel that's truly hard to put down. "Mission to Paris" includes beautifully drawn scenes of romance and intimacy, and the novel is alive with extraordinary characters: the German Baroness von Reschke, a famous hostess deeply involved in Nazi clandestine operations; the assassins Herbert and Lothar; the Russian film actress and spy Olga Orlova; the Hungarian diplomat and spy, Count Janos Polanyi; along with the French cast of Stahl's movie, German film producers, and the magnetic women in Stahl's life, the socialite Kiki de Saint-Ange and the emigre Renate Steiner.
But always at the center of the novel is the city of Paris, the heart and soul of Europe--its alleys and bistros, hotels grand and anonymous, and the Parisians, living every night as though it was their last. As always, Alan Furst brings to life both a dark time in history and the passion of the human hearts that fought to survive it.
Advance praise for "Mission to Paris"
"The writing in "Mission to Paris, " sentence after sentence, page after page, is dazzling. If you are a John le Carre fan, this is definitely a novel for you."--James Patterson
"I am a huge fan of Alan Furst. Furst is the best in the business--the most talented espionage novelist of our generation."--Vince Flynn
Praise for Alan Furst
"Unfolds like a vivid dream . . . One couldn't ask for a more engrossing novel.""--The Wall Street Journal, "about" Spies of the Balkans"
"Though set in a specific place and time, Furst's books are like Chopin's nocturnes: timeless, transcendent, universal. One does not so much read them as fall under their spell."--"Los Angeles Times, " about" The Spies of Warsaw"
"Alan Furst's novels swing a beam into the shadows at the edges of the great events leading to World War II. Readers come knowing he'll deliver effortless narrative."--"USA Today, " about "The Foreign Correspondent"
"Positively bristles with plot, characters and atmosphere . . . "Dark Voyage" has the ingredients of several genres--the mystery, the historical novel, the espionage thriller, the romance--but it rises above all of them."--"The Washington Post, " about" Dark Voyage"
"No other espionage writer touches Furst's] stylish forays into Budapest and Berlin, Moscow and Paris. No other writer today captures so well the terror and absurdity of the spy, the shabby tension and ennui of emigre communities at the time. His characters are hopeless, lethal, charming. His voice is, above all, knowing."--"Boston Sunday Globe, " about "Blood of Victory"
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-04-30
- Reviewer: Staff
Alan Furst’s writing reminds me of a swim in perfect water on a perfect day, fluid and exquisite. One wants the feeling to go on forever, the book to never end. Such is it with this historical spy novel. From September 1938 to January 1939, the reader vividly lives through Paris’s last stormy breaths of freedom before Germany’s attack in 1940. Our unlikely hero is Frederick Stahl, 40, a handsome American movie star, not an action figure but everyone’s favorite silver screen doctor or uncle or romantic leading man. Warner Bros. loans Stahl out to make a picture in Paris. He likes Paris, and he likes keeping Jack Warner happy. But there’s a little known fact in his past that the Nazis can make much of—born in Vienna, Stahl worked as a gopher for the Austrian legation in Barcelona at the end of WWI, and Austria had been an ally of Germany. So when officials in Germany’s political warfare department discover Stahl will be in their sphere of influence, they alert their Paris section to put him on “the list” to be used. From movie studios to embassies, from parties with the untouchably wealthy to a sexy love affair with a sophisticated émigré living in a tenement, Stahl finds himself caught between those who believe France must rearm to fight Germany, and those who are desperate for a negotiated peace. When Stahl refuses to support “peace,” the Nazi threats begin. To retaliate, he becomes a secret U.S. courier, bravely carrying hundreds of thousands of Swiss francs into Germany and Morocco to exchange for intelligence about the Nazis. Reading Furst is the next best thing to having been in Berlin: “Uniforms everywhere.... This country was already at war, though enemy forces had yet to appear, and Stahl could sense an almost palpable violence that hung above the city like a mist.” Like Graham Greene, Furst creates believable characters caught up, with varying degrees of willingness, in the parade of political life. And because they care, the reader does, too. And like Lee Child, Furst captures personality with insightful brush strokes: Stahl’s father had “a face like an angry prune.” Long on an ability to translate good research into great reading, Furst has only two downsides: although threats escalate, little comes of them, and when Stahl takes risks, they tend to deflate. For example, Stahl insists he’s honor-bound to pursue the Nazis who’ve stolen the film crew’s cameras, but he ends up waiting in a rowboat with a gun while others do the dangerous work offstage. And when the woman he loves is held in Budapest for interrogation, Stahl’s solution is to use his box-office status to get her a visa at the U.S. embassy, then phones the William Morris Agency in hopes his agent can come up with an exit strategy. Still, my complaints are minor compared to the breadth and realized ambition of this seductive novel. Furst is one of the finest spy novelists working today, and, from boudoir to the beach, Mission to Paris is perfect summer reading. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (June) Gayle Lynds, the cofounder with David Morrell of International Thriller Writers and ThrillerFest, is the author of The Book of Spies (St. Martin’s, 2010).