Thursday, December 17, 2015
FFB Spies of the Balkans by Alan Furst
In 1940, when much of Europe is at war with Nazi Germany, Greeks were hoping to stay out of the war. But some knew the conflict was inevitable.
In the northern Greek city of Salonika, police detective Constantine Zannis is the go-to guy for sensitive assignments like finding out what a mysterious German is doing in town, or making an indiscreet politician's irate lover quiet down and stop making a public spectacle.
Zannis at heart is an honest cop with a conscience, and that conscience is put to the test when a German woman recruits him to help her smuggle Jewish refugees out of Germany.
His task is to set up a network of safe havens in nearby countries and into Greece where the refugees can catch international ships to neutral countries. Zannis takes on this job which requires him to travel in and out of Greece and into some dangerous cities where an underground network of petty criminals will assist – he hopes – for a price.
The price is met by a wealthy Greek shipping tycoon and friend of Zannis’ police boss. The tycoon has a beautiful young wife, and as if Zannis is not in enough danger defying the Nazi’s and dealing with gangsters, he falls in love with the rich man’s wife and begins an affair.
Spies of the Balkans is a well written, well researched, compelling and topical read during this time when thousands of refugees escaping war are trying to reach safe haven through the same part of the world.