Spies of the Balkans
Publication Date: June 15, 2010
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“Furst’s books are like Chopin’s nocturnes: timeless, transcendent, universal.
One does not so much read them as fall under their spell.”
—Los Angeles Times, on The Spies of Warsaw
Greece, 1940. Not sunny vacation Greece: northern Greece, Macedonian Greece, Balkan Greece—the city of Salonika. In that ancient port, with its wharves and brothels, dark alleys and Turkish mansions, a tense political drama is being played out. On the northern border, the Greek army has blocked Mussolini’s invasion, pushing his divisions back to Albania—the first defeat for an ally of the Nazis, who have conquered most of Europe. But Adolf Hitler will not tolerate such defiance: in the spring he will invade the Balkans, and the people of Salonika can only watch and wait.
At the center of this drama is Constantine “Costa” Zannis, a senior police official, head of an office that handles special “political” cases. As war approaches, the spies begin to circle, from the Turkish legation, from the German secret service, a travel writer sent by the British, and others—from Bulgaria? From Italy? Nobody knows. But Costa Zannis must deal with them all. And he is soon in the game, securing an escape route—from Berlin to Salonika, and then to a tenuous safety in Turkey, a route protected by German lawyers, Balkan detectives, and Hungarian gangsters. And hunted by the Gestapo.
With extraordinary authenticity, a superb cast of characters, and heart-stopping tension as it moves from Salonika to Paris to Berlin and back, Spies of the Balkans is a stunning novel about a man who risks everything to fight back against the world’s evil.
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, Kingdom of Shadows, Blood of Victory, and Dark Voyage. Born in New York, he has lived for long periods in France, especially Paris. He now lives on Long Island, New York. Visit the author's website at www.alanfurst.net.
Alan Furst talks to Steve Inskeep about his new novel Spies of the Balkans. The thriller focuses on Costa Zannis, a police official in the northern Greek port city of Salonika. It's 1940, and Zannis is helping to transport German Jews from Berlin through Greece to neutral Turkey. Hitler's army hasn't invaded Greece yet, but everybody knows they're coming. More at NPR.org
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