cover image A Hero of France

A Hero of France

Alan Furst. Random House, $27 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9649-4

A master of the historical spy novel, Furst scores again with his 14th suspense story (after Midnight in Europe). This excellent spy thriller is set in Paris, March to August 1941, with the French Resistance movement covertly opposing the German occupation of the City of Light, early in World War II. Mathieu runs a Resistance cell that helps downed British airmen escape to Spain, always operating under the threat of exposure, betrayal, and arrest. Mathieu and the men and women of his cell are watchful and careful with their trust, for the Vichy police and the German Gestapo are sneaky, efficient, and brutal. The cell is small and well-organized, aided by an ethnology professor, a shady nightclub owner, a regal society matron, a Jewish schoolteacher, a female aristocrat, and a teenage girl. Their clandestine operations are very successful, attracting the unwelcome attention of a mysterious British spy, “a citizen of the shadows,” a French communist agent, a blackmailing underworld thug, and the most dangerous adversary of all, a German police inspector, Otto Broehm, sent specifically to Paris to destroy Mathieu’s cell. The inspector is a thorough planner, creating a clever, careful scheme to penetrate Mathieu’s cell. Mathieu must navigate or neutralize all these threats, resulting in a tense, well-crafted tale of courage, sacrifice, and wartime espionage. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (June)