Capturing Elegance and Intrigue: Alan Furst’s Mission to Paris
Alan Furst writes the coolest books! To me, they are like watching old black-and-white movies, where people wear trench coats and walk on rain-slicked cobblestone streets. The air is gray with mist and cigarettes (because everybody smokes). And, even better, Furst's latest book, Mission to Paris, is set in the City of Light: "In Paris, the evenings of September are sometimes warm, excessively gentle, and, in the magic particular to that city, irresistibly seductive."
It is 1938 and Europe is on the cusp of war. This is the timeframe of many of Furst's books, a time when personal action might make a difference -- at least that's how it seems to the characters. Franz Stalka, aka Fredric Stahl, is an American citizen born in Vienna, an actor in France on loan from Warner Brothers to film a war movie, who finds himself the center of attention, from the press, high society, the Nazis, and FDR's secret service. Franz is being manipulated by all of these groups and has to maintain his actor's front as his involvement deepens.
In Mission to Paris, there is plenty of intrigue, parties, pistols with silencers, thugs, and pretty women in gowns. There are side trips to the Balkans, Morocco, and Berlin. There is a world at stake and a heart to save and the hope that Franz does the right thing. And this is all done with an elegant style that goes down like a smooth cocktail. Mmmm, that was good!