Monday, June 15, 2015

Review: Red Gold by Alan Furst

Title: Red Gold
Author: Alan Furst
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Phoenix
Publish Date: 2005
Source: Borrowed

What's the Story?:

From "If you enjoy mysteries set against the rich background of World War II Europe (Philip Kerr's Berlin Noir trilogy and the fine French series by J. Robert Janes are prime examples), you should also know about Alan Furst. He began by writing such excellent, original books as Dark Star and Night Soldiers, all set in Eastern Europe. The locale then moved to Paris for The World at Night, where we first met the enigmatic film producer and reluctant Resistance hero Jean Casson.

Casson returns in fascinating form in Red Gold, washing up broke and depressed in his home city, now totally ground down by its German occupiers. Recruited by a sympathetic cop, Casson joins a group of officers working undercover inside the Vichy government to help de Gaulle. Casson's job is to convince justifiably skeptical French communists to cooperate; to do so he must organize a complicated, extremely dangerous transfer of weapons. There's nothing glamorous about the work or its result, but Furst is such a persuasive writer that we come to realize what a success it is for Casson just to stay alive. This innovative and gripping novel eloquently transports us back to a different era and a different world. --Dick Adler"

My Two Cents:

"Red Gold" is a sort of sequel to Furst's "The World at Night" although it still a part of his Night Soldiers series. "Red Gold" picks up the story of Jean Casson, the main character from "The World at Night." In this book, we see Casson as more battle-worn than he was in the first book but still committed to trying to help the Resistance movement in France. The stakes are even higher now!

The great thing about Furst's "Night Soldiers" books are that you can really start anywhere in the series without confusion as the books focus on different characters (except for "Red Gold" and "The World at Night." I actually read this book before I read the previous book and still totally understood this one (I do wish that I had read them in the right order merely from the standpoint of being able to see the progression of Casson's character).

Casson is a fascinating character. At first, he starts out wanting to stay out of the fray and to simply live his life without getting too involved. In this book, he cannot help but to be involved. He has a lot of drive and commitment. I really like how Furst is able to change this normal, everyday man into somewhat of a hero. Furst does this with a lot of his characters, which really helps to pull readers into caring about what happens to these people where there is so much more than what meets the eye initially. I did like "The World at Night" a little bit better because we see much more of a change in Casson as well as much greater characterization, another reason that I wish I had read this book after that one.

The world building and setting in this book continued to be one of my favorite things. Furst knows how to do a lot with a little. No description is wasted here!


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