“The Foreign Correspondent”

Alan Furst

This is a typical Alan Furst spy novel, set in Paris just before World War II. A group of antifascist Italian émigrés publish an underground newspaper that’s distributed within Mussolini’s Italy. The main character is a correspondent for Reuters who we first meet in Spain during that country’s civil war. He’s also the editor of the underground newspaper and the lover of the wife a German aristocrat in Hitler’s Berlin. There’s not a lot of action — Furst specializes in setting, atmosphere, and character — until the end but a sense of menace builds throughout the book.

One common element in all Furst’s “Night Soldiers” books, which interlock but aren’t exactly a series in the conventional sense, is the fictional Brasserie Heininger”. It’s based on the real Brasserie Bofinger, which I’d love to visit despite the fact that French restaurants intimidate me.

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