By Chet Yarbrough
Narrated by: Daniel Gerroll
Alan Furst creates a sense of foreboding, isolation, and hedonistic abandon before WWII in Midnight in Europe. It is 1938. The Spanish Civil War is raging. France and England are kowtowing to Hitler’s land-grabbing demands and false concessions. By the end of the year, the Franco/English appeasement agreement in Munich will be signed and Czechoslovakia will be ceded to the Nazis.
Spies lurk in Paris’ bars and crooks work on the fringes of clandestine arms’ and munitions’ deals. The spies are working for their governments. The crooks are lining their pockets at the expense of nationalist patriots.
Furst creates Cristian Ferrar, a successful corporate attorney living in Paris that is recruited by an underground Spanish resistance group. The resistance is to Franco’s government in Spain. The Paris based resistance’ cell is recruiting Spanish ex-patriots like Ferrar to help acquire arms and munitions to fight Franco.
Furst paints a picture of foreboding, isolation, and hedonistic escapism by telling stories of Ferrar’s experience in 1938. Every new person Ferrar meets is dour, ironic, or nervous except when intimate. Everyone has secrets. Sex shuts out personal’ isolation of Furst’s hero, but after intimacy, the feeling of isolation reasserts itself with the imminence of war.
There are several tales of derring-do in Furst’s book but this genre of fiction is overdone and nothing new about pre-war Europe seems revealed by Furst’s effort. Furst is a good writer but he needs a new story line.