Mission to Paris: A Novel
The last great war where "personal espionage" could be practiced was World War II, a war before satellites, drones, high-flying U2s and other weapons that could find, process and take out intelligence which is why great authors still focus on that war nearly 70 years ago.
Alan Furst, a master story writer and best-selling author, has returned to World War II as the setting for his work Mission to Paris: A Novel. Indeed, the setting for Mission is in the run-up to World War II as the Nazis begin working their mind-games against the French.
An American star, Frederic Stahl, is on his way to make film for Paramount and the Nazi propaganda machine's secret department is cranking itself up to use Stahl - or so they think - as part of their plan to destabilize France from within and its will to win.
What they don't know about Stahl is that he, too, is an agent, working for the American Embassy against Germany. Stahl is aghast and horrified by the Nazis and what was to become known as "the final solution." In 1938, though, the Nazis could not reveal their true agenda to the world or they would have quickly been cut off by the rest of society so they had to work behind the scenes to do their deeds.
The key to his novel, though, is Furst's ability as an author. His works are called "page-turners" by the trade. Some have called him the best spy novelist in the business this generation, on a par with the master spy novelist John LeCarre. After reading him, we would have to agree.
The list of characters that Furst's fertile imagination creates and the reality you feel is amazing. Take, the Baroness von Reschke, a famous beauty, a deeply committed Nazi who is also deeply committed to the operations against France. As noted, the intimate scenes in which she is involved are well drawn and believable. Indeed, each character, as noted, is just that believable, including the Nazi thugs, Janoz and Lothar, who, though they seem just from the trees, are also quite creepy as assassins.
This work must have taken a great deal out of Furst because of the way he details the film cast and crew; members of the diplomatic community and Stahl's lovers. Like a puzzle, not only is each piece a small work of art that is meant to fit into a larger work, the whole of Mission to Paris is greater than the sum of its parts.
Whether you read it the old-fashioned way, as a standard book, or you download the Kindle version, you should be glad you did.
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Roberto Sedycias works as an IT consultant for http://www.polomercantil.com.br