Midnight in Europe

Midnight in Europe

[a Novel]

Large Print - 2014
Average Rating:
4
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The future of Spain is at stake. Germany and Italy have ensured that Republican forces are starved of weapons and a Franco victory now looks likely. Cristian Ferrar, a Spanish lawyer living in Paris, is a well-connected man. When Ferrar is approached by anti-Franco forces, he readily agrees asked to help smuggle arms into his homeland. Working with de Lyon - an enigmatic man of Slavic descent - Ferrar goes on a quest which will take him from libertine nightclubs in the City of Light to volatile bars by the docks in Gdansk, as Europe holds its breath.
Publisher: New York : Wheeler Publishing, A part of Gale, Cengage Learning , 2014
Edition: Large Print edition
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9781410470072
1410470075
Branch Call Number: LT FICTION FURST ALAN
Characteristics: 407 pages (large print) : map ; 23 cm
Alternative Title: Midnight in Europe

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z
zipread
Sep 24, 2017

Europe in 1938: on the verge of World War II. Already the civil war in Spain lurches on as a prelude of the destruction to follow. The Royalists under Franco are lavishly propped up by his fellow fascists, Mussolini and Hitler who is fighting his proxy war in the Iberian peninsula. The Republicans, on the other hand, are short of everything: materiel, weapons, ammunition, infantry. Hopelessly outnumbered, their doom is inevitable.
Europe is about those last spasm of effort that go into the propping up of those Republican forces. The armaments being smuggled out of Russia. The Parisian functionary hard a work in an attempt to smuggle guns into Spain.
The novel is well written but I did find it difficult, at first, to find my bearings in Furst's novel. Persevere.

2
2puppies
Jul 07, 2014

An okay read, but better than his last novel MISSION TO PARIS.

Three Stars ***

j
JimLoter
Jul 05, 2014

Less an espionage thriller and more of a procurement procedural, Furst's latest in the "Night Soldiers" series is downhill even from "Mission to Paris," which I felt was already a marked decline from his earlier novels.

In "Midnight in Europe" we focus on Cristián Ferrar, a Spanish lawyer living in Paris, who becomes involved in an effort to smuggle arms and ammunition to the republicans in his home country. There is very little tension as Ferrar rather openly pursues his aims, announcing his mission to virtually everyone he come into contact with. The only real tension occurs near the end in a marine encounter that feels tacked on.

The novel gets off to a good start with a sort of "cold open" involving a courier named Castillo who is questioned and ultimately executed by sinister Spanish Nationalists. It's only a few pages long, but it's a well-crafted set-piece that nicely introduces the conditions in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. We never experience those (or any) terrifying conditions again.

Furst's novels focus on the Everyman spy - the reluctant do-gooder who is persuaded to take extraordinary risks on matters of principle, justice, and patriotism. This really only works when the protagonist actually has to make sacrifices. Ferrar is barely inconvenienced by his covert work and never directly faces any real danger. He operates from Paris in comparative safety and comfort. He has meetings at night clubs, openly travels throughout Europe, visits his family, has an affair with a Marquesa, conducts business while horseback riding, flies to New York and buys an apartment for his relatives to escape to, and dines at the Brasserie Heininger, the location of Furst's favorite leitmotif - a bullet-hole-ridden mirror above Table #14. All in all, Ferrar seems to be having a pretty swell time while conducting an illegal arms deal more-or-less in his spare time.

With nothing really at stake, it's hard to care whether the arms-running plot succeeds - and even if it does, we all know how the Spanish Civil War plays out. What we really need in these kinds of novels is for the protagonist to undergo some kind of personal transformation or overcome some kind of inner war for which the events unfolding in Europe are merely the backdrop and/or a metaphor. Sadly, Ferrar has no personal arc, struggles with no inner conflict, and experiences no growth. What appears to be a story about a man trying to get a big gun from Russia to Spain turns out to be just a story about getting a big gun from Russia to Spain.

l
looper46
Jun 17, 2014

Pretty typical Alan Furst novel--his formula is pre-WWII Europe, espionage, some sex, and the good guys win the moment. I'm a fan of his work, so I read it. You should have a interest in European history; and know something about the Balkans. A good fairly quick read, he has his base, as I have said, and they will read it. Check out earlier works, to get and idea if you like his stuff.

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