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Dark Voyage: A Novelby Alan Furst
Synopses & Reviews
"In the first nineteen months of European war, from September 1939 to March of 1941, the island nation of Britain and her allies lost, to U-boat, air, and sea attack, to mines and maritime disaster, one thousand five hundred and ninety-six merchant vessels. It was the job of the Intelligence Division of the Royal Navy to stop it, and so, on the last day of April 1941..."
May 1941. At four in the morning, a rust-streaked tramp freighter steams up the Tagus River to dock at the port of Lisbon. She is the Santa Rosa, she flies the flag of neutral Spain and is in Lisbon to load cork oak, tinned sardines, and drums of cooking oil bound for the Baltic port of Malmo.
But she is not the Santa Rosa. She is the Noordendam, a Dutch freighter. Under the command of Captain Eric DeHaan, she sails for the Intelligence Division of the British Royal Navy, and she will load detection equipment for a clandestine operation on the Swedish coast — a secret mission, a dark voyage.
A desperate voyage. One more battle in the spy wars that rage through the back alleys of the ports, from elegant hotels to abandoned piers, in lonely desert outposts, and in the souks and cafes of North Africa. A battle for survival, as the merchant ships die at sea and Britain — the last opposition to Nazi German — slowly begins to starve.
A voyage of flight, a voyage of fugitives — for every soul aboard the Noordendam. The Polish engineer, the Greek stowaway, the Jewish medical officer, the British spy, the Spaniards who fought Franco, the Germans who fought Hitler, the Dutch crew itself. There is no place for them in occupied France; they cannot go home.
From Alan Furst — whom the New York Times calls America's preeminent spy novelist — here is an epic tale of war and espionage, of spies and fugitives, of love in secret hotel rooms, of courage in the face of impossible odds. Dark Voyage is taut with suspense and pounding with battle scenes; it is authentic, powerful, and brilliant.
"It's no secret by now that Furst is a superlative chronicler of World War II, and his new novel is a splendid addition to an accomplished body of work that includes The Polish Officer and the bestselling Blood of Victory. His mastery of the atmosphere of that era — its brusque heroes and heroines, its sudden explosions of violence, its strange black glamour — is the fruit of tireless research and an empathetic imagination. His hero this time around is a blunt Dutch sea captain, E.M. DeHaan, whose sturdy but aging merchant vessel is pressed into service on behalf of the British Navy by the exiled Dutch naval intelligence group in London. Disguising his boat as a neutral Spanish freighter, DeHaan somberly and grudgingly takes it several times into harm's way, ferrying British commandos on a North African raid, taking munitions to the beleaguered British garrison on Crete and then, most dangerous of all, on a secret mission to Sweden's Baltic coast. The marine details are so authentic the reader can smell the oil and the brine, and the characters who come aboard and into the captain's life — a valuable Polish naval officer in exile, a Jewish refugee who becomes the ship's doctor, a Russian woman journalist fleeing the Soviets, with whom DeHaan enjoys a brief and dry-eyed romance — are sketched with concise brilliance. The book casts such a spell with its exact evocations of time, place and language that one could swear Furst was a Brit writing out of his own experience in 1941 rather than an American writing today. Agent, Amanda Urban. Forecast: Furst has been rapidly developing both his skills and his reputation as a master of that still-alluring world, and this is arguably his finest performance to date, likely to confirm old admirers and win many new ones." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[B]ristles with plot, characters and atmosphere....[It] has the ingredients of several genres...but it rises above all of them....[Furst's] novels remind us that these days a great deal of exceptionally good American writing is being done in...'popular' fiction." The Washington Post
"Mr. Furst has both a novelist's imagination and a historian's antennae for the nuances of unsteady World War II allegiances....Dark Voyage is vintage cinema already." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"As always with Furst, setting conveys both mood and meaning; here, it's a series of neutral or semineutral ports of call...that provides the shadows and infuses the action with that ambiguous uncertainty of motive in which Furst's people thrive." Booklist (Starred Review)
"[T]hough Furst has been producing these intelligent thrillers at a fairly steady pace, I have to confess that I still can't get enough of them....For all you aficionados of World War II thrillers, summer won't be over until you read this one." San Francisco Chronicle
"Anchored by a suspenseful plot, a slew of particularly well-articulated major and minor characters acquire a depth not commonly found in fact-action reads....
"No novelist has shown greater understanding of the macro- and micropolitics of occupied and neutral Europe during World War II, or of the threads of daily life in such a vast panorama of places." San Jose Mercury News
"[A] master of understatement, in both language and action....Furst's Dark Voyage is just that, a voyage into a dark, shadowed world where enough lies construct a truth that almost but never quite emerges into the light." Chicago Sun-Times
"Dark Voyage...has all the elements of his best books: a worldly but ultimately incorruptible main character; an electric atmosphere of threat; and a sensuous love affair....Dark Voyage is one of Furst's best books." Seattle Times
"Furst lulls us into the atmosphere, allows us to imbibe his descriptions and then, in the last 50 pages, turns the screws. The denouement of Dark Voyage is both breathless and utterly relaxed....If he ever breaks a sweat, it doesn't show." Charles Taylor, The New York Times Book Review
"With profound understanding of the historic panorama, Furst subtly evokes the emotional and mental highs that resided at that time, even within the most ordinary and anonymous of citizens. Fans will not be disappinted by this spare but never terse adventure tale." Library Journal
"Densely atmospheric and genuinely romantic, the novel is most reminiscent of the Hollywood films of the forties, when moral choices were rendered not in black-and-white but in smoky shades of gray." The New Yorker
"Repeatedly some unexpected, unpredictable, absurdist, and thoroughly convincing detail sets the dark atmosphere ashimmer...the best qualities of Furst...continue to ripen and deepen in Dark Voyage." Boston Globe
"Pick any sentence at random — or sentence fragment, a favorite style of Furst's — and you'll find it is as meticulously crafted as the ship itself....Furst creates a richly atmospheric world in which victory is no certainty." The Oregonian (Portland, OR)
"To reveal any of the labyrinthine plot would be to ruin the pleasure of this superbly tense and crafted novel...Furst can't write a bad sentence, and Dark Voyage looms as yet another sinister triumph in his saga of a Europe on the verge of total destruction." Providence Journal
The New York Times bestselling author and master of international intrigue returns to the secret operations at bay, battles at sea, and romance in ports-of-call.
About the Author
Alan Furst is widely recognized as the master of the historical spy novel. He is the author of Night Soldiers, Dark Star, The Polish Officer, The World at Night, Red Gold, Kingdom of Shadows, and Blood of Victory. Born in New York, he has lived for long periods in France, especially Paris. He now lives on Long Island, New York.
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