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Tense atmosphere, riveting read

Step back to 1938 for exciting political thriller

By Matthew J. Meyer

For The Free Lance-Star

“MISSION TO Paris”  once again demonstrates Alan Furst’s ability to deliver a historical spy novel that you can’t put down.

Set in the environs of Paris in September 1938, the story captures the atmosphere in the time surrounding the ill-fated appeasement negotiated by France’s Daladier and Britain’s Chamberlain.

Hollywood film star Fredric Stahl is on his way to Paris to make a movie.  Born in Vienna 40 years earlier, he spent time at the beginning of his career in Paris.  The Nazis in the Reich Foreign Ministry know he’s coming.  They intend to use Stahl to further their political warfare agenda—to weaken French morale and degrade France’s will to defend itself.

Their initial overtures, hardly subtle, make Stahl frustrated and wary.  Their continued pressure disgusts and angers him.  Eventually he contacts the American embassy in Paris and agrees to be part of their informal information-gathering network.

After he completes a couple of missions, the Nazis become determined to eliminate him.  His flight to escape with the woman he loves  takes every bit of fortitude he possesses.

The strength of this novel  is the perspective it gives the reader on the attitudes of the men and women on the streets of Paris during that era, their anxiety, trepidation and sense of betrayal by the leaders.

It is also a sobering—albeit exciting—primer on political warfare.

Matthew J. Meyer  is a freelance reviewer in Spotsylvania County.


By Alan Furst

(Random House, $27, 255 pp.)


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