The Spies of Warsaw

Alan Furst

If you like atmospheric spy novels that transcend their genre and haven’t read anything by American writer Alan Furst, you’ve missed out. His specialty is finely crafted tales of espionage and political intrigue set in Europe during World War II, or the run-up to it, based on historical facts. At the center of this latest novel, Furst’s ninth, is Col. Jean-François Mercier, a decorated hero of the 1914 war and now the military attaché at the French embassy in Warsaw. The story spans the months, beginning in autumn of 1937, leading up to the German invasion of Poland on Sept. 1, 1939. There’s a vivid cast of mysterious characters, including Russian spies, German counterintelligence officers and Gestapo thugs, and settings that range from diplomatic salons and the back alleys of Warsaw to dark forests where blitzkrieg is being perfected. The plot centers around Mercier’s growing awareness of just how the Germans plan to invade, the dangers he faces obtaining the information, and the difficulty of convincing others of the truth.