Book Review: Midnight in Europe by Alan Furst

I am a big Alan Furst fan. He writes about an interesting place and time and generally comes up with a pretty interesting cast of characters who often find themself in pretty tough positions. Occasionally his books seem to meander to an end without anything being resolved, but given that is how real life works I’ve never been bothered by that.

I bought this book as a gift for my wife, who is also an Alan Furst fan. I picked it up and noticed she’d started reading it and set it aside. She couldn’t remember why, so I read it myself.

By the end of the first twenty pages or so I had a pretty good idea why she’d set down. I kept going. It wasn’t exactly a chore, the prose was good, as always. I finished it relatively quickly, it isn’t that long, and when I set it down I told her what I have to tell you, I can’t really recommend it.

As I said, the prose is good, but that is all I can really say positive about it. The setting is Paris, where many of Furst’s novels are set, but this one seems to be missing the atmosphere that his other novels have. The main character, a successful lawyer, is dull. He gets involved with the Spanish Civil War, steals a train in Poland, and is shot at by an Italian patrol boat, but never seems to be in any real danger. Nothing much happens to him and there’s almost a complete lack of dramatic tension.

I have an almost complete set of Alan Furst’s novels, and have read many of them multiple times. I doubt I’ll be reading this one again though. He is one of my favorite writers, but I think he phoned this one in.


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