Friday, August 20, 2010

BOOK: Spies of the Balkans by Alan Furst

Spies of the Balkans by Alan Furst, 268 pages

thanks to RandomHouse Canada for the review copy

Historical spy novels are not my usual type of fiction, but something about this one, probably the setting of Greece and the Balkans, made me pick this up. Apparently, Furst is well known for his historical spy books, and Spies of the Balkans is the 11th in his Night Soldiers series. (not a series per se, but a series of historical spy novels set in Europe that take place in the years prior to, and in the early part of, World War II.)

Costas Zannis is a special cop in Salonika, Greece, dealing with sensitive situations. He meets up with a woman from Germany helping Jews escape, and ends up helping her, and the refugees, on their path through the Balkans on the way to Turkey. At this point in the war, Greece is not involved, but is definitely a British ally. The plot wasn't as complicated as I feared, as spy thrillers usually leave me wondering who was who. There was just the right amount of suspense and intrigue and I liked Costas as a character. He lived a bit of a playboy life, with women falling all over him, sort of a dream life for guys, so maybe I'm not completely the target audience. It wasn't distracting, but it seemed a little too much for a regular guy to have fall in his lap.

If this is representative of Furst's other novels, I would certainly read another one. Stand-up characters, spy intrigue, world war two, and European settings are all well done.