Mission to Paris by Alan Furst *** (of 4)
Fredric Stahl, a handsome American movie star of Austrian descent is sent by his California studio to Paris to make a movie. The year is 1939, the eve of Germany’s occupation of Czechoslovakia, Poland, and ultimately France. Recognizing the opportunity to advance their political agenda, German spies target Stahl and ensnare him into promoting Nazi propaganda. The American ambassador in Paris works Stahl as a double agent. Much of the action takes place in a Paris deep with apprehension and the book provides a fascinating account of the dichotomous French views at the time: stand up to the Nazis, now and forever vs. a post World War I sentiment to avoid bloodshed and an almost certain whipping before German might. Bistro dinners, cocktail parties, smoky basement bars, even the damp winter chill of Paris in December are all on full display. Unfortunately, the book feels like a black and white movie of the era that we have seen before. The suspense and intrigue that should accompany this kind of book all feel two-dimensional rather than insightful or revelatory.
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