“Spies of the Balkans” by Alan Furst

[SPOILER ALERT] Furst’s hero Zannis is hard-working, principled, hunky, honest, pragmatic, successful, respected by Greek and foreigner, and human, yet (significant to our final inability to fuse with him) unflawed. I think it’s the fact that he actually gets away safe at the end, eluding the invading Germans, which makes this clear, although to have him killed would be deeply disappointing. In other respects Furst’s story shares Le Carré’s preference for character over action, but deals differently with the building of tension: Le Carré’s story (or at least the one I read recently) has one situation which we know must end somehow; Furst’s has multiple situations set against the background of an inevitable German invasion. It’s a delightful read, and I feel guilty for feeling slightly let down at the end.

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