Field Gray (Bernard Gunther, #7)

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Field Gray (Bernard Gunther, #7)Field Gray by Philip Kerr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this in October 2011 and is part of my transfer of reading from the Now Reading plugin to Goodreads

Philip Kerr’s hero Bernie Gunther has been living a very nice life in Cuba. His adventures always have him beholden to someone. They are invariably unscrupulous or is some shady police officer. He has a knack for finding these people. Or he somehow comes to their attention. Continue reading “Field Gray (Bernard Gunther, #7)”

The One from the Other (Bernard Gunther, #4)

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The One from the Other (Bernard Gunther, #4)The One from the Other by Philip Kerr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this in November 2011 and is part of my transfer of reading from the Now Reading plugin to Goodreads

I am a huge fan of the Bernie Gunther Novels and this one is no exception. Like the predecessors there is great attention to the historical circumstances that surround the central character Bernie Gunther.

Another enjoyable instalment in the Bernie Gunther saga.Thankfully there are more to come.

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Dark Voyage – Alan Furst

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This Alan Furst novel has a decidedly nautical favour and gives a Dutch flavour to the war in Europe. The story is set largely at sea and follows the intrigue of ports across the Mediterranean and northern Europe. As would be expected on a merchant ship there are a variety of characters from all over the place.

The central character DeHaan is a resourceful old salt who is master of his own world. A great yarn with a great finish. Predictably the infamous Brassiere Heininger is featured but in a very unusual way.

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Alan Furst Double “The World at Night” & “Red Gold”

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This turned out much to my surprise a two part story. I read the first book The World at Night and when I started the next novel Red Gold I was confused. I know that there is very little cross over in characters in the Furst novels. It took a few pages to realise that Red Gold is a continuation of The World at Night.

The World at Night follows a reasonably well to do movie producer and his comfortable life as the Germans are rolling across Europe. The central character Jean Casson fortunes slowly slide downwards as he becomes drawn into the conflict. Almost inevitably he falls foul of the new authorities as they assert their control over his beloved Paris.

As with all the novels the Brassiere Heininger with its infamous table with a bullet hole in the wall. This is the connector in all the novels. Makes you wonder if they all see each other. The hero of the piece is put in a position where he is played off between the various secret service and resistance groups.

The story ends quite soddenly.

Luckily Red Gold comes along and as the name suggests this has a Russian flavour as Jean becomes more entangled with communists.

On the run and down on his luck he can only watch his old life from a distance. He lives in the shadows of his own city.  Always looking for his past. These stories evoke a sense of being there. There is much made of the deprivation suffered by the occupied people.

 

Dark Star – Alan Furst

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This tale by Alan Furst, Dark Star, follows a high-profile Russian reporter. He is a foreign correspondent who enjoys a degree of luxury and privilege in the dark days of Stalin’s purges. He becomes drawn into the world of espionage by his masters, a matter of survival as anything else. The is a real sense that he does not have any way out, whatever he does “they” know and will find him. The story is set to the backdrop of moving through occupied countries and into Germany. There are lots of historical references and the Russo-German non-aggression pact is central to the story.

As is custom with these novels there is the obligatory visit to the famous brassiere in Paris and that bullet hole in the wall. The main character in these books is Europe and the turmoil of the nineteen thirties and the inevitable march towards war.

The book is a satisfying read with great characters and particularly enjoyable for those who revel in this period of history. Dark Star does evoke a sense of being there.

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Spies of the Balkans

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This is the third of the Alan Furst novels that I have read , Spies of the Balkans. This is as intriguing as the previous ones with a flavour of the intrigue that is the essence of WWII spy novels. This one is set in Salonika and has as its backdrop the imminent invasion of Greece by the German army. The central character a policeman becomes embroiled with spies form both sides of the conflict. He moves between theses competing interests with some degree of flexibility which is afforded to him by his unique position in the police department.

Ultimately he becomes entangled with moving persecuted Jews from Germany, a sort of hidden escape path. Like the previous novels there is the obligatory path into Paris and the brassiere that features in all of the novels. I look forward to reading more of this.

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The End of the World in Breslau

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This story is set in the German city of Breslau in the late 1920s. It is somewhat reminiscent of Agatha Christie‘s famous ?Hercule Poirot. In that the central character in this book is a somewhat pompous and self assured detective. Unlike Hercule Poirot Eberhard Mock is not a free agent but rather an employee of the local police department. His juggling several balls what appears to be some kind of serial killer, the bureaucracy of his own department and his marriage to a much younger woman.
The setting almost has the tail end of an Edwardian mystery in that people are still getting dressed up rather formally and moving about the cold in horse-drawn vehicles. But the world is changing and motor vehicles and new kinds of technology appear in the book. Breslau is an interesting city over the centuries it has had various rulers as it sits between what is now Poland and Germany. In the past this city has been part of Silesia and Prussia. The unfolding crimes in this story relate the history of the city and point to the coming of the end of days.
Eberhard Mock it would appear is a man means lives well enjoys having his own personal staff and to all those around he is  difficult. He pushes and prods his way through the story struggling to solve the case and is often the scenario in such stories those to whom he answers are less than happy with him. In the end the crime is solved that it’s a bittersweet victory for the central character Eberhard Mock.
The author is Polish and this city is now a Polish city that still owes much to its German heritage, at the time of the story it is part of Germany. It’s worth finding out a little about Breslau as it has an interesting and varied history and explains something of the period which this book is written. The author Marek Krajewski was a lecturer in classical studies at the University of Breslau book is translated into English by Danusia Stok.

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Potsdam Station by David Downing

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This is the fourth of the John Russell novel by British author David Downing . This story is set in the dying daysofWWII in Berlin. Unlike the previous three this installment is described as John Russell and Effi Koenen novel. Effi has been John’s longstanding girlfriend and features much more in this story. Since the last installment there has been  a gap of some years, and John is trying to return to Berlin to reunite with Effi.

In order to achieve this John once again becomes entangled with the Russians, his only way of infiltrating Berlin in the dying days of the war. As is usual with David Downing’s novels the is a great deal of detail about the war. There is a real sense of the hardships suffered by the average inhabitants of the German capital at the hands of allies bombing. He also explores the fear that must have been present at the time about the new future beyond the end of the war.

Tangled up in all of this is John’s attempts to find his son who is now serving in the army. Here he explores the ever changing needs of the regime as the nations young men are dying or being taken prisoner by the advancing forces. The novel certainly evokes an atmosphere of final days of the Nazi regime in Berlin.

Overall the major plot line isn’t as dramatic as the previous installments nevertheless an enjoyable read. Perhaps best of  all the ending lends itself to another …….

The Polish Officer

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Another lengthy tale of intrigue that follows a Polish military officer as he becomes part of the  resistance inThe Polish Officer by Alan Furstoccupied France during WWII. The title is in deference to the main character, The Polish Officer lovers of the period will enjoy historical references. At another level the story focuses on the  the isolation and devastation that surrounds the life of an undercover agent. This is the third of the series by Alan Furst and these books are interesting as there is no recurring central character. The times and the turmoil of the 1930’s and 40’s provide the momentum for these books.

The good thing is there are plenty more to follow.

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Night Soldiers – Alan Furst

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Ivan Dubasov
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This is the first in the Alan Furst series of novels dealing with intrigue and espionage in and around WWII in Europe. This book spans nearly ten Years and follows Nikolai Stovaniev a Bulgarian who is recruited by the the NKVD. It helps having some knowledge of European history of the 1930’s and 40’s to make sense of some the large themes in the story. It is a story of survival in the face of betrayal. The spectre of the Stalinist purges looms in the background and is a reminder of the brutality of that regime.
All in all a great read, a little like LeCarre but a generation earlier. It has the all twists and turns that you would expect in an espionage novel.
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