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Historical Spy Fiction Review – The Foreign Correspondent

 

The Foreign Correspondent by Alan Furst

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

Alan Furst writes best-selling historical spy fiction. The novels are set before and during World War II. His protagonists are similar to Eric Ambler and Alfred Hitchcock’s ordinary people pulled into murky intrigues in which they have no control over anything except their own will, their own sense that they must strike back against tyranny. With authority and conformity the default settings for many, Furst’s protagonists resist and rebel instinctively, like hardcore readers (“Hey, adult, I’d rather read than go outside, thank you very much.”). Furstian heroes don’t have abstract philosophies about liberty and freedom. They just don’t like getting pushed around and feel they must fight or be overwhelmed by bigots, xenophobes, haters, and the Colonel Cathcarts that all have a right to do anything we can’t stop them from doing. Want rights? Fight for them.

This novel is set 1938, right on the eve of war. Carlo Weisz, along with scores of other Italian brain workers, has had to move to Paris. He belongs to a small group that publishes an underground newspaper that is printed in Italy, then distributed samizdat-style by sneaky teenagers (perennial Furstian heroes) in bus stations and other public places.

Carlo finds himself dealing with agents of various intelligence services and plug-uglies sent by Mussolini. He’s able to visit Germany on reporting jobs and meets the woman that he loves, unfortunately married to anti-fascists and thus watched by the Gestapo.

The Foreign Correspondent is long on atmosphere and short on action. But it’s heartening for rebellious readers.

 

 

 

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