Saturday, December 20, 2014
War Challenge #23
I read this for the 2014 War Challenge with a Twist at the reading challenge blog War Through the Generations
The World at Night – Alan Furst
Faced with the brutal occupation of his country, Jean-Claude Casson figures he will somehow carry on producing action and gangster movies. But as time passes he realizes that Nazi counter-intelligence is watching him. His phone makes strange noises. His letters are fooled with. He is bullied to really help them. Rather than collaborate, he contemplates escape and helping the British. But he must contrive a way to take his lover Citrine with him.
This novel has a measure of espionage but mainly describes the dark atmosphere of the first year of the Nazi occupation of Paris. As for plot, in fact, Casson goes over a script by the hunted Jewish writer Fischfang and thinks:
Yet, a mystery. Hotel Dorado was luminous. Not in the plot -- somewhere in deepest Fischfang-land there was no real belief in plot. Life wasn't this, and therefore that, and so, of course, the other. It didn't work that way. Life was this, and then something, and then something else, and then a kick in the ass from nowhere....
That judgment rather echoes a reader like me who likes more than a minimum of story. At least, what action does occur is consistent with character, which is a plus. The climax and ending fall short. As somebody who has read much Simenon, I goggled at the reference that The Nightclub (1933) was a Maigret story when really it is a stand-alone roman durs. Nitpicking about plot and goofs aside, I thought this novel was more enjoyable than the slow-moving The Polish Officer (too much of a story in that case), but not up to the high standards of characterization and incident of Dark Star and Night Soldiers.
This could be me, however, not leaving a longer time between Furst’s novels. I read Furst’s Night Soldiers in July, only five months ago. And I read Simenon’s novel about Nazi occupation Dirty Snow only about a month ago. Maybe I was unconsciously comparing….