Mission to Paris – Alan Furst

Frederic Stahl, an internationally famous Hollywood film star is making a film in Paris.   Having spent a few years there as a young man, Stahl was looking forward to the visit.   As soon as he arrived, he changed into a sweater and pair of corduroy trousers and went out to find his Paris.  Walking slowly he couldn’t get enough of the smells . . . garlic, perfume, tobacco, potatoes frying.  Just as it had smelled when he was twenty-five.  But he soon finds that this is not the Paris of his youth.  Paris in 1938 is a target of political warfare. Germany is using intimidation and bribery, hundreds of millions of francs, to undermine morale and weaken France’s will to defend itself.  The Germans have plans to use him for propaganda while the Americans have plans to use him as an informal spy.

The story is told with careful detail, as if it were history instead of fiction.  There are no fantastic twists and turns.  Though Stahl feels that his fame will keep him safe, the tense, dangerous atmosphere of Paris is always present just below the surface.  I was quickly drawn into the feeling of unease, not knowing who to trust, not wanting to say or do something dangerous.  The book is excellent spy novel is quite a page turner.  I am left with wanting to learn more about this time in history.

NetGalley Review        Publication date 6.12.12

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