In the fall of 1942, before the Allies invaded North Africa and the Germans lost at Stalingrad, France had fallen, Britain was staggering, and the United States had not yet meaningfully entered the war in Europe. Virtually all of the Continent outside a handful of neutral nations was occupied by the Nazis. And nowhere was the Nazi presence felt more strongly than in Paris, which the Wehrmacht had preserved as a playground for its troops. There, the French Resistance was growing steadily under the tutelage of Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE). This is the setting for the fifteenth novel in Alan Furst‘s bestselling Night Soldiers series, Under Occupation.
Under Occupation (Night Soldiers #15) by Alan Furst (2019) 205 pages
@@@@ (4 out of 5)
Writer Paul Ricard, a successful author of novels about detectives and spies, has no plans to join the Resistance despite his hatred of Nazis. Sheer chance draws him into the war. As he walks down the street, a Polish spy fleeing from the police is shot and collides with him; as he lies dying, he thrusts a document into Ricard’s pocket. And that document — a schematic of the detonator on a new Nazi torpedo — proves to be of huge interest to the SOE. Soon, Ricard and his friend Kasia, a Polish-speaking Hungarian, enlist for a mission into Germany to establish a conduit for more information about the Nazis’s U-Boat operations.
In Under Occupation, as he follows Ricard from one secret assignment to the next, Furst provides a picture of the French Resistance that is entirely consistent with the historical record. That is, it’s consistent in all ways but one: in reality, the German Sicherheitsdienst (SD) and Gestapo were brutally efficient in infiltrating and undermining French Resistance networks. Operations like those in which Ricard plays a part were more often than not discovered and destroyed by the Nazis. Thousands of French people lost their lives working to free their country.
Alan Furst excels at evoking the mood of Europe in the Nazi era. He grounds his books in intensive research. They’re one of the very best ways to explore the history of Europe in the 1930s and 40s.
For additional reading
This book is the fifteenth entry in The evocative Night Soldiers series from Alan Furst.
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