Join Alan Furst, author of the fiction novel, The Spies of Warsaw (Random House) as he virtually tours the blogosphere in July on his first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion!

Reviewed by Caleb S.

The story in The Spies of Warsaw takes place mostly in and around Warsaw before WWII, with some trips to places such as Paris and Germany. We follow Mercier, the French attache to Warsaw who was recently assigned there, as he goes about doing his job, both the public and private aspects. His public duties consist of going to social functions in Poland and rubbing elbows with the elite and power brokers. The other duties are data gathering, reconnaissance and keeping his ears open, and reporting all useful information back up the chain of command. At first Mercier thinks little of his assignment, but as time goes on the secrets he slowly uncovers create a picture that spells real trouble for both Poland and France. Can he convince his superiors, and those making the decisions on France’s safety, that he’s right?

The Spies of Warsaw was a well written and interesting book. However, in trying to summarize the plot, I’ve had a hard time. While the book was enjoyable, easy to read, and kept one’s attention, the plot was rather meandering. Was is a spy novel? Yes, in that the main character was technically a spy. Was it a political mystery? Not really, we already know what happens in the end. Was it a love story? No, there is a love interest, but that is only a useful prop. Was it a story of revenge? No. Was it a story of espionage? Once again, no.

The closest I can get to pinning down the plot is to say that it was a story about a French military attache assigned to Warsaw a couple years before WWII. The Spies of Warsaw was truly a collection of mini plot arcs. In spite of all that, I found the book to be engaging, and felt that it really helped one get a feel for the time and place it was happening in. One’s knowledge (or lack of) the beginning of WWII could have a large impact on how the expectations of the story play out.

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.