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Midnight in Europe, by Alan Furst, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, RRP £18.99, 320 pages
Alan Furst’s novels have invoked glowing comparisons with Graham Greene for his idiosyncratic recreations of 1930s Europe; Midnight in Europe shows there is not the slightest diminution in his masterly command.
In 1937, the continent is on the brink of catastrophe, while in Spain a desperate war is claiming the lives of thousands. Christián Ferrar is a Spanish émigré lawyer, more than happy to leave the conflict behind while working in New York and Paris. But, despite his better judgment, when he is asked to help Republican troops to obtain supplies of arms, he finds himself saying yes.
Christián finds his own personal desires subsumed by the terrifying march of history, in the company of a polyglot group of allies including idealists, criminals, arms traders and even blue bloods on the run from the Gestapo. Not to mention the extraordinary Marquesa Maria Cristina, stimulated by the proximity of danger.