I just finished reading Alan Furst's "The Foreign Correspondent," the ninth book in his Night Soldiers series. Furst is a writer of historical spy novels. The New York Times calls him “America’s preeminent spy novelist.
The Foreign Correspondent is an enjoyable read, tense, mysterious, with sharp, capitative writing. The reader is led through the darkness and intrigue to present a compelling depiction Europe on the eve of WWII.
Furst excels at characterization. His characters are not superheroes with super-human skills. Caught up in the events of their time, they are regular people thrust into action by circumstances. They rise to the occasion and bravely face the danger even if they are terrified.
Historical fiction presents a challenge, the reader most likely knows the final outcome of the big picture. Furst's books are well-researched and present a believable and insight to the turbulent, uncertain times. The reader can feel the inevitability and dread of the coming war, something hard to find in history books. He is a master at drawing the reader into this world.
Why do I like his books? In one sense they are like old black and white movies from that era, noir masterpieces. One could easily believe they were written during those times.
Furst provides inspiration and a high bar for other authors in this genre. His intriguing plots, strong characterization, and enigmatic atmosphere are to be admired and hopefully emulated by aspiring authors.