Reviewed: “Midnight in Europe” by Alan Furst

Midnight in EuropeWe expect war to be harsh, immediate, brutal, and – at least in the case of fictionalized accounts of it – defined by “never a dull moment.”

Maybe we set our sights to far askew at times. Maybe that’s why it seems as though Alan Furst’s MIDNIGHT IN EUROPE is a bit lacking in excitement. Maybe that’s why a reader might find herself wondering just when something’s going to happen in this book.

This novel is a fictionalized account of the Spanish Civil War that took place in the 1930s and lead to the thirty-six year leadership of General Francisco Franco. The story focuses on one expat Spaniard, Cristian Ferrar, who lives in Paris and works as a lawyer by day and a sort of paper-pushing spy by night. The trouble is that the story seems to require the reader to already have a detailed understanding of the Spanish Civil War – and that’s unfortunate for the larger scope of the story.

Names, places, battles, and events are thrown into a story that – while maybe not absolutely essential to understanding that a story is very much focused on just the character of Ferrar – desperately needs more background information. While that may have been left out because it’d run the risk of sounding too much like a textbook, it is safe to say that someone who picks up a book based in and around the Spanish Civil war either knows about the real event or wants to know more, i.e. be informed and entertained.

MIDNIGHT IN EUROPE feels like a story of unfulfilled potential. So many threads of possibility are brought up in interesting ways only to be neatly tied off and tucked into the past a short time later. It’s very much a book of even flow rather than one of highs and lows.

(I received a digital copy of MIDNIGHT IN EUROPE through Net Galley on the promise of an honest review. This review will be cross-posted on my blog, Goodreads account, and Net Galley.)

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