three-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
24-Sept-Oct-2006
By: 
Alan Furst
user_rating: 
0

A-The Foreign CorrespondentAs a reporter, Carlo Weisz is used to making discreet use of his many sources. But when he is solicited to take the reins of an underground newspaper following the murder of its previous editor, Weisz enters a world where prudence and secrecy are tantamount. The paper, Liberazione, is the Paris-based voice of the Italian resistance; it is 1938, and emotions are running particularly high as the ill-fated Mussolini and Hitler prepare for what will devolve into World War II. Weisz scuttles across Europe, evading the Italian secret police, carrying on love affairs, and keeping faith with the virtues of the fourth estate.
Random House. 288 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 1400060192

Ft. Worth Star Telegram 4 of 5 Stars
"Part of what’s captivating about this book is its apparent simplicity: In direct, vivid style, Furst captures the ambiguity of a world in which loyalty is hard to define." Carlo Wolff

Wall Street Journal 4 of 5 Stars
"Whether he is teasing out the intrigues of dueling spy agencies, or of ordinary citizens who reluctantly join the fray, Mr. Furst gives us a world where there are few pure motives or decisive victories." William Birdthistle

USA Today 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Furst’s own turf is the no-questions Paris hotel, the tabac, the night train across the border, the tramp freighter under a moonless sky. … But Weisz and his story will feel a bit too familiar to those for whom Furst’s best —Night Soldiers, Kingdom of Shadows, The World at Night—were genuine discoveries." James Cox

Milwaukee Jrnl Sentinel 3 of 5 Stars
"Some of his earlier novels, such as The Polish Officer and Kingdom of Shadows, are truly thrilling, while this one has less zip. It does, however, succeed in taking its reader into a milieu of long-ago war and politics that remains germane today." Philip Seib

Boston Globe 2 of 5 Stars
"The man has written a thriller dripping in atmosphere that fails to ignite. … His unparalleled sense of place cannot disguise the fact that nothing much happens in it. If he’s not phoning it in, he’s not delivering the goods either." Sam Allis

NY Times Book Review 2 of 5 Stars
"Furst has produced a curiously inert book that is missing both the percussive drive of more commercial spy novels and the fully realized characters of le Carré and Greene. It is an honest effort—Furst is too good a writer and too professional to offer anything less—and it has its pleasures, but they are served dutifully and without great vigor." Alex Berenson

Critical Summary

Critics seem remorseful about handing Alan Furst less-than-glowing reviews. Widely acknowledged as a modern master of the spy thriller (he’s often named alongside John le Carré and Graham Greene) and a masterful prose stylist, Furst leapt onto the scene with Night Soldiers and has since delivered acclaimed best sellers like Blood of Victory and Dark Star. Some reviewers happily embrace Furst’s well-researched, atmospheric espionage, but a small minority grouses that, for all the lovely Parisian scenery and international intrigue, the story of an embattled journalist just isn’t compelling. It’s anything but a run-of-the-mill spy story, but without the palpable adventure of his earlier books, it’s just ordinary for Furst.