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Spies of the Balkans

A Novel

Furst, Alan

(Book - 2010)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Spies of the Balkans
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As war approaches northern Greece, the spies begin to circle--from the Turkish legation to the German secret service. In the ancient port of Salonika, Costa Zannis, a senior police official, head of an office that handles special "political" cases, risks everything to secure an escape route for those hunted by the Gestapo.
Publisher: New York : Random House, 2010
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 1400066034
9781400066032
Branch Call Number: FICTION FURST 2010
Characteristics: 268 p. :,map ;,25 cm

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Dec 20, 2014
  • Chapel_Hill_KenMc rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Furst is a real craftsman when is comes to setting the scene for moody, atmospheric spy thrillers. But his novels always seem to fall short. The plots just aren't quite engrossing enough, the characters interesting but not compelling, the themes a bit shallow for the grandiosity of his efforts. Better to read a true master like LeCarre. But still, I keep coming back--sometimes the set dressing is worth the price of admission.

Apr 22, 2012
  • dbed rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Probably one of Alan Furst's best books.

Apr 03, 2012
  • AnneDromeda rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Costa Zannis is a man who loves his job and his country. A detective on the police force in Salonika, Greece in 1940, he has access to major society players from the lowest of the low to the most powerful public figures. Thus, as WWII threatens to sweep down through the Balkans, he's privy to much disturbing information on the Nazi movement south and east, as well as the machinations of Mussolini in Italy.<br />

As the Nazi machine grinds south, his connections help him operate a rescue ring for Jews fleeing occupied nations. This is where the intrigue in *Spies of the Balkans* really takes flight – author Alan Furst exhaustively researched the diplomatic and physical battles that drove the Nazi occupation into the Balkans. His research feeds a furiously paced romp through Europe as Zannis fights to save the lives of his family, friends, and fleeing Jews, ultimately growing entangled in plots to rescue entire nations. Meanwhile, Zannis is captivated by a glacially beautiful woman trapped in a loveless marriage to a tyrannical senior Greek bureaucrat. Will his strict moral code allow him to do what he needs to save as many as he can? With the Gestapo on his tail for murder, will his transgressions so far cost him his life?<br />

Loaded with plot and politics, it could be argued that the character development is a little light in *Spies of the Balkans*. That, however, would be missing the point of the novel. Zannis is a gloriously gritty pulp fiction detective in the tradition of Sam Spade, surrounded by the same femmes fatale characters. No one is supposed to learn and grow, there's no time for that – *Spies of the Balkans* is a relentless romp, a wild ride through the race to evade the Nazis. Pour yourself a highball, put up your feet and turn the blinds – Furst's *Spies of the Balkans* won't let you go until it's all over.

Jun 26, 2011
  • peageeuu rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Alan Furst does a wonderful job of creating the mood and atmosphere of fear and apprehension that must have engulfed pre- war and world war II Europe.

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Apr 03, 2012
  • AnneDromeda rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Costa Zannis is a man who loves his job and his country. A detective on the police force in Salonika, Greece in 1940, he has access to major society players from the lowest of the low to the most powerful public figures. Thus, as WWII threatens to sweep down through the Balkans, he's privy to much disturbing information on the Nazi movement south and east, as well as the machinations of Mussolini in Italy.<br />

As the Nazi machine grinds south, his connections help him operate a rescue ring for Jews fleeing occupied nations. This is where the intrigue in *Spies of the Balkans* really takes flight – author Alan Furst exhaustively researched the diplomatic and physical battles that drove the Nazi occupation into the Balkans. His research feeds a furiously paced romp through Europe as Zannis fights to save the lives of his family, friends, and fleeing Jews, ultimately growing entangled in plots to rescue entire nations. Meanwhile, Zannis is captivated by a glacially beautiful woman trapped in a loveless marriage to a tyrannical senior Greek bureaucrat. Will his strict moral code allow him to do what he needs to save as many as he can? With the Gestapo on his tail for murder, will his transgressions so far cost him his life?<br />

Loaded with plot and politics, it could be argued that the character development is a little light in *Spies of the Balkans*. That, however, would be missing the point of the novel. Zannis is a gloriously gritty pulp fiction detective in the tradition of Sam Spade, surrounded by the same femmes fatale characters. No one is supposed to learn and grow, there's no time for that – *Spies of the Balkans* is a relentless romp, a wild ride through the race to evade the Nazis. Pour yourself a highball, put up your feet and turn the blinds – Furst's *Spies of the Balkans* won't let you go until it's all over.

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