Reviews for Under occupation : a novel

Library Journal
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Drawing on true events about Polish prisoners in Nazi Germany smuggling information to the French Resistance, Furst imagines a man racing through the dark streets of 1942 Paris and handing off a drawing to Paul Richard before being captured by the Gestapo. The drawing displays a weapons part, Richard knows exactly for whom it's destined, and he gets increasingly involved with the Resistance, even traveling to Germany and meeting beautiful spy Leila.


Publishers Weekly
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Furst (A Hero of France) sets his latest espionage thriller in occupied Paris during the early 1940s. Paul Ricard, a spy novelist, witnesses an altercation between the Gestapo and a mysterious man, who hands Ricard a hand-drawn detonator schematic before being shot dead. Recognizing the importance of the document, Ricard uses his contacts to ferry the drawing to the English, and in the process becomes an agent for the resistance. Working with his friend Kasia, and under the direction of the alluring Leila, Ricard takes on assignment after assignment, the danger for his life ever increasing as he travels throughout France and Germany. Ricard’s profession as a writer makes for a metafictional treat, as he pens a new spy novel while working for the Resistance, complete with story beats that echo his own journey. As always, Furst writes at breakneck speed, thrusting Ricard into adventure. This moves the action along, yet frequently sacrifices emotion, particularly when everyman Ricard is tasked with violent acts. While sure to please the author’s many fans, the novel, replete with curvy women for Ricard to romance, nevertheless misses opportunities to dig deep within its protagonist, making for an exciting, if shallow, romp. (Nov.)


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A crime writer in occupied France finds himself in a plot more dangerous than any he's dreamed up.Having been shot by the Gestapo, a man surreptitiously hands something to Paul Ricard just before dying: It appears to be a drawing specifying the technical details of a military weapon. After making some inquiries as to whom he might pass the papers to, Ricard finds himself volunteering for the Resistance and, under the guise of a journalist, traveling to Germany to make contact with the conscripted Polish workers who can explain the document. As with his other novels, Furst (A Hero of France, 2016, etc.) bases his tale on a lesser-known nugget of World War II history, in this case, the Polish laborers forced to build U-boats who took their revenge by smuggling technical information to the French Resistance, who forwarded it to British intelligence. But the tension has, for the moment, gone out of Furst's work, and the elliptical and compact writing style he developed has devolved into a kind of drifting, random series of scenes that never accumulate into more. There is still a fine sense of the details of life during wartime, the strange and pregnant heaviness that lies over the most banal activities. What's missing, though, are the moments when that heaviness bursts forth.This is a picture of war less as a series of impossible choices than as a vaguely romantic miasma. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Paul Ricard is a spy and detective fiction writer living in 1942 Nazi-occupied Paris. When he accidentally intercepts the plans for a German detonator and successfully delivers them to the British, he lands in the dangerous world of spies and the underground French Resistance. As each task he receives becomes more dangerous than the last, he risks coming to the attention of the occupying forces. Most of the characters in Furst's 13th spy novel (after A Hero of France) are one-dimensional and clichéd, the history is more of an afterthought than a part of the story, everything that happens is rather stereotypical, and the plot is choppy enough that it becomes a chore to follow. VERDICT This is not the master spy novelist at his finest, which may disappoint his many fans. While die-hard devotees will probably want to read it, newcomers should start with his earlier works. [See Prepub Alert, 4/28/19.]—Laura Hiatt, Fort Collins, CO


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Furst continues where he left off in A Hero of France (2016) with another gripping espionage tale showcasing ordinary Frenchmen working with the British to undermine the Nazi war effort. Paul Ricard is a spy novelist in the mode of Eric Ambler, but he is not involved in the Resistance himself until, like so many of Furst's heroes, he is thrust inadvertently into action. Walking beside the Seine, he instinctively helps a man running from the Gestapo and has a purloined document slipped into his hands after the man is shot. So begins a suspense-dripping, cat-and-mouse game in which Ricard, one small step at a time, finds himself a full-fledged Resistance agent, first slipping into Germany to take possession of a stolen torpedo, whose inner workings are much coveted by the Allies, and then running a safe house from where blown agents are exfiltrated out of harm's way. Working with an intrepid working-class Polish woman, Kaisa, and an aristocratic Frenchwoman, Leila, Ricard weaves his way through occupied Paris until, inevitably, his flimsy cover is finally blown. Many of Furst's signature themes are in full flower here wartime love affairs (warm bodies beneath cold covers as Klaxons blare on dark streets) and character interactions as brief as they are indelible but this time the special treat is the vivid detailing of Resistance operatives at work, well-oiled tradecraft blending seamlessly into everyday activities. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Everyone from Tom Hanks and David McCullough to you and me is a Furst fan, as his sales attest.--Bill Ott Copyright 2019 Booklist

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