2014: 33. The Spies of the Balkans

"In autumn, the rains came to Macedonia"

Spies of the Balkans, Alan Furst

And now for something completely different.  Well, moderately different, at least.  Decided that even I had reached my fill genteel Britain, and went for a WWII spy novel.  Once again, I must tip my hat to this weeks's holder of the Misha Preheim Memorial Chair in book recommending - this week filled by Misha Preheim himself - because I LOVED this book.  

This is the third book I've read by Alan Furst, and this one, like The Foreign Correspondent gripped me from page one.  It's the story of Costa Zannis, a policeman in the Greek port town of Salonika in 1940.  War hasn't been declared yet, but it's coming, and as he carries out his police work he finds himself drawn more and more into war activities - namely, doing all he can to help people evade the Germans.  And it's so great - it's well written, and it captures the subtlies of small-time spying.  I just loved it.  It's all small scale - no gigantic James Bond missions - just small actions by people who are willing to either help their fellow man, or take some well placed money, or just spit in Adolf's eye.

And I know it's not a perfect book - Costa is a little to perfect to be true.  He is crumpled and world weary, and women fall into bed with him and (SPOILERS herein, so be warned and stop if you don't want to know) it is a leeetle implausible how fast he falls into becoming the savior of Jews.  I mean, if it was that easy, right? But, on the other hand, it's awesome to read about about hero once in a while, and if we only read about how people really acted we'd slit our wrists.  So, go ahead and enjoy the story of the little Greek policeman who did the right thing.

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017