Alan Furst is widely recognized as the master of the historical spy novel. He is the author of Night Soldiers, Dark Star, The Polish Officer, The World at Night, Red Gold, and Kingdom of Shadows. Born in New York, he has lived for long periods in France, especially Paris. He now lives on Long Island, New York.
Critics who thought Furst's previous novel Kingdom of Shadows lacked a clearly linear plot will find much to praise him for in his toothsome new historical espionage thriller. The novel (named for the Romanian oil vital to the German war machine) describes a daring operation to disrupt the flow of that oil from the Ploesti fields in Romania to Germany by sinking a group of barges at a shallow point in the Danube in early 1941. The motley group attempting this maneuver barely holds together: its members include a sultry French aristocrat, hounded Russian Jews, even Serbian thugs. And while the tale features the same period details as its predecessor, and stretches from Istanbul to Bucharest with detours in Paris and London, it reaffirms the signature Slavic focus of the author's earlier books like Dark Star. This is literally personified in the novel's protagonist, the dogged Russian migr I.A. Serebin, who has to dodge every kind of secret police from the Gestapo to Stalin's NKVD (" `Why, Serge?' `Why not?' That was, Serebin thought, glib and ingenuous, but until a better two-word history of the USSR came along, it would do"). Diehard Furst fans will appreciate the recurrence of several secondary characters from Kingdom of Shadows (especially a certain heavyset Hungarian spymaster). But even newcomers will be ensnared by Furst's delicious recreations of a world sliding headlong into oblivion (wonderfully illustrated by Serebin having to drive a car off a cliff to escape with his life at the climax). Maps. Agent, Amanda Urban. (Sept. 3) Forecast: In a full-on campaign to make Furst a household name, Random House is reissuing his six earlier novels in trade paperback. Four are already out, and the last two (Dark Star and Night Soldiers) will be released at the same time as Blood of Victory. This, plus the attention Furst got for Kingdom of Shadows, could easily propel Blood of Victory onto bestseller lists. 5-city author tour.
In Furst's latest bit of historical intrigue, Odessa-born writer Serebin front man for an migr organization based in Paris is persuaded by the British secret service to help stop the import of Romanian oil to Germany. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
"[Furst] glides gracefully into an urbane pre-World War II Europe
and describes that milieu with superb precision." --Janet Maslin,
The New York Times
"Densely atmospheric and genuinely romantic, the novel is most reminiscent of the Hollywood films of the forties, when moral choices were rendered not in black-and-white but in smoky shades of gray." --The New Yorker
"Furst's achievement is a moral one, producing a powerful
testament to fiction's ability to re-create the experience of
others, and why it is so deeply important to do so." --Neil Gordon,
The New York Times Book Review
"Richly atmospheric and satisfying." --Deirdre Donahue, USA Today