Friday, January 10, 2014
"Mission to Paris", by Alan Furst
Mr. Furst returns once more to pre-war Europe, nothing is formulaic about his novels each stands on its own although some may recognize old faces form time to time.
In “Mission to Paris “, the author lures his protagonist Fredric Stahl, twice Oscar nominated movie star to the “City of Light”. Fredic thinks he is in France to play the leading role for paramount in “Après la Guerre”. But in Europe 1938 things are not really as they seem after all it is a frightening time as the Continent is moving towards war.
Fredic makes the movie and gets entangle with all sorts of characters and attracts the attention of the Germans who are very interested in him. All they want is for him to come to Berlin and be a judge in their film festival… This is an unsubtle attempt to recruit him to spout out pro-Nazi sentiment. Fredric is very skeptical that accepting the offer would be good for his career. Saying no may not be an option and from there he finds himself in direct opposition with the propaganda meisters….Fredic seeks help from the American Embassy and in doing so he inevitably becomes one of their useful courier and information gatherer …….
“Mission in Paris” is an historical spy fiction that gives us clues into the propaganda warfare that the Nazis and the French sympathizers waged on France. The novel is entertaining enough although I found the denouement to be rather weak and its third person narrative to be a bit cheesy at time. There are crackerjack scenes but they lack in suspense is as if the author ran out of steam describing them. I like the happy ending, rare and unlikely did they happen in those days.
Although this novel is good it is definitely not Furst at his best and definitely not the one I preferred the most.