Customer Reviews for

Spies of the Balkans

Average Rating 4
( 78 )
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5 Star

(26)

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(21)

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(23)

2 Star

(4)

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(4)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

Helping escape of those fearing Nazi tyranny

I had always like the books of Alan Furst but this one threw me for a loop! Maybe it was me not being able to get into this story but, with my love and interest in books from this period before, during, and after WWII, I figured I would fall right into this spy book an...
I had always like the books of Alan Furst but this one threw me for a loop! Maybe it was me not being able to get into this story but, with my love and interest in books from this period before, during, and after WWII, I figured I would fall right into this spy book and enjoy it thoroughly. Instead, I "waffled" my way through this read. I knew the time, the location, and the events at the time, so I tried very hard to gather all the events together and assimilate them in my mind. I am sure many will enjoy this book and I hope Alan Furst will forgive me for not being a huge fan of his latest book. I read and review many books and very rarely give a negative opinion in any review. So bear with me so you will understand the story and then decide that you DO want to read it.

The story takes place mainly in Greece before the Germans have overtaken Greece and the surrounding nations, although they were pressing onward to so do. The main person in the book is a senior police official, Costa Zannis, who is valiantly working behind the scenes to liberate those endangered by the Nazi's by getting them to a safe country in any way possible. Modes used were cars or trucks, train, airplane, ship or boat, or merely walking across open land to cross borders to achieve some safety. Zannis and those that worked with him had to be very careful since they hoped that those involved in assisting getting those individuals or families to a safer place could not always be trusted.

Eventually Zannis was told he was a captain in the military of Greece but he mainly stayed in his own locale doing his thing helping others escape. He also had some lovers, some from other times and some new, that made him wish they were in other times but he did what he could to help others and keep a few he loved closer to him through letters when possible or in person, which was becoming more rare. Zannis traveled much by various means to reach those needing help to get to a safe place, travel that always brought more danger into his life. He even had contacts to get papers for those he assisted when they needed them. He was highly thought of by most, even some that were on the fence of their thinking with the major change coming to the area. Everyone knew what had occurred in the areas Germany had already overrun but they hoped and prayed that they would not suffer the same results in their area.

If you can keep events and people together you will no doubt enjoy this book. I think it must be me that had the problem. The subject is told in action as it occurred and where it occurred.

posted by CBH on June 2, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

Brasserie Henninger, Again!

In a recent radio interview, Alan Furst claimed that he wasn't bored by his chosen slice of history, but after his last few novels, one wonders.

Spies of Warsaw reads more like an exploratory draft than a full-fledged novel. The perils are cursory, the outcome never...
In a recent radio interview, Alan Furst claimed that he wasn't bored by his chosen slice of history, but after his last few novels, one wonders.

Spies of Warsaw reads more like an exploratory draft than a full-fledged novel. The perils are cursory, the outcome never really in doubt. The main character seems more like a daydream imagining of what Furst would like to have been than a real person.

As with the previous, and equally lame, Spies of Warsaw, the short length, and short shrift given to espionage and thrills, make this seem more like a historical bodice-ripper than a spy novel.

And the Rasputin-like reappearance of the Brasserie Henninger, which features in every one of Furst's novels, is by now a played out caricature that I could do without.

Its turn here is especially contrived: the British secret service strong-arms the hero, a Greek police official, into going to Paris to rescue a British mathematician who somehow winds up as a tail-gunner on a Brit bomber that gets shot down.

And of course no trip to Paris is complete without a stop at the Henninger, and yet another recounting of the bullet hole in the mirror. Seriously. Twice was cute, three times funny, but seven times? Enough already.

Furst needs a change of scenery, or a good long sabbatical, because he's rapidly descending into schlock.

posted by luckyX3 on June 25, 2010

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  • Posted June 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Helping escape of those fearing Nazi tyranny

    I had always like the books of Alan Furst but this one threw me for a loop! Maybe it was me not being able to get into this story but, with my love and interest in books from this period before, during, and after WWII, I figured I would fall right into this spy book and enjoy it thoroughly. Instead, I "waffled" my way through this read. I knew the time, the location, and the events at the time, so I tried very hard to gather all the events together and assimilate them in my mind. I am sure many will enjoy this book and I hope Alan Furst will forgive me for not being a huge fan of his latest book. I read and review many books and very rarely give a negative opinion in any review. So bear with me so you will understand the story and then decide that you DO want to read it.

    The story takes place mainly in Greece before the Germans have overtaken Greece and the surrounding nations, although they were pressing onward to so do. The main person in the book is a senior police official, Costa Zannis, who is valiantly working behind the scenes to liberate those endangered by the Nazi's by getting them to a safe country in any way possible. Modes used were cars or trucks, train, airplane, ship or boat, or merely walking across open land to cross borders to achieve some safety. Zannis and those that worked with him had to be very careful since they hoped that those involved in assisting getting those individuals or families to a safer place could not always be trusted.

    Eventually Zannis was told he was a captain in the military of Greece but he mainly stayed in his own locale doing his thing helping others escape. He also had some lovers, some from other times and some new, that made him wish they were in other times but he did what he could to help others and keep a few he loved closer to him through letters when possible or in person, which was becoming more rare. Zannis traveled much by various means to reach those needing help to get to a safe place, travel that always brought more danger into his life. He even had contacts to get papers for those he assisted when they needed them. He was highly thought of by most, even some that were on the fence of their thinking with the major change coming to the area. Everyone knew what had occurred in the areas Germany had already overrun but they hoped and prayed that they would not suffer the same results in their area.

    If you can keep events and people together you will no doubt enjoy this book. I think it must be me that had the problem. The subject is told in action as it occurred and where it occurred.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2012

    Terric read

    Outstandjng - story really moves along

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 31, 2012

    Excellent Spy Story

    Spies of the Balkans is another of Furst’s spy stories that draws the reader into the world of the early 1940s. His characters are interesting and believable. They do what is necessary to save lives as the Third Reich expands into the Balkans. I you liked Furst’s other books such as Dark Star and the Polish Officer, you’ll enjoy this one.

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  • Posted June 25, 2011

    Excellent historical spy fiction

    Furst at his best.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2011

    like a memoir

    Trying to do right while ordered to do wrong, our hero is trapped between his official police duties, the impending invasion of Greece, his love for his corrupt boss's wife and normal crime fighting. Good read with a bit of period phrasing.

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