Spies of the Balkans

Spies of the Balkans

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“Furst’s books are like Chopin’s nocturnes: timeless, transcendent, universal.

One does not so much read them as fall under their spell.”

—Los Angeles Times, on The Spies of Warsaw

Greece, 1940. Not sunny vacation Greece: northern Greece, Macedonian Greece, Balkan Greece—the city of Salonika. In that ancient port, with its wharves and brothels, dark alleys and Turkish mansions, a tense political drama is being played out. On the northern border, the Greek army has blocked Mussolini’s invasion, pushing his divisions back to Albania—the first defeat for an ally of the Nazis, who have conquered most of Europe. But Adolf Hitler will not tolerate such defiance: in the spring he will invade the Balkans, and the people of Salonika can only watch and wait.

At the center of this drama is Constantine “Costa” Zannis, a senior police official, head of an office that handles special “political” cases. As war approaches, the spies begin to circle, from the Turkish legation, from the German secret service, a travel writer sent by the British, and others—from Bulgaria? From Italy? Nobody knows. But Costa Zannis must deal with them all. And he is soon in the game, securing an escape route—from Berlin to Salonika, and then to a tenuous safety in Turkey, a route protected by German lawyers, Balkan detectives, and Hungarian gangsters. And hunted by the Gestapo.

With extraordinary authenticity, a superb cast of characters, and heart-stopping tension as it moves from Salonika to Paris to Berlin and back, Spies of the Balkans is a stunning novel about a man who risks everything to fight back against the world’s evil.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442306059
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date: 06/15/2010
Edition description: Unabridged
Pages: 8
Product dimensions: 5.08(w) x 6.04(h) x 1.16(d)

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, Blood of Victory, and Dark Voyage. Born in New York, he has lived for long periods in France, especially Paris. He now lives on Long Island, New York. Visit the author's website at AlanFurst.net.


Sag Harbor, New York

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


B.A., Oberlin College

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Excerpted from "Spies of the Balkans"
by .
Copyright © 2010 Alan Furst.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Spies of the Balkans 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 87 reviews.
CBH More than 1 year ago
I had always like the books of Alan Furst but this one threw me for a loop! Maybe it was me not being able to get into this story but, with my love and interest in books from this period before, during, and after WWII, I figured I would fall right into this spy book and enjoy it thoroughly. Instead, I "waffled" my way through this read. I knew the time, the location, and the events at the time, so I tried very hard to gather all the events together and assimilate them in my mind. I am sure many will enjoy this book and I hope Alan Furst will forgive me for not being a huge fan of his latest book. I read and review many books and very rarely give a negative opinion in any review. So bear with me so you will understand the story and then decide that you DO want to read it. The story takes place mainly in Greece before the Germans have overtaken Greece and the surrounding nations, although they were pressing onward to so do. The main person in the book is a senior police official, Costa Zannis, who is valiantly working behind the scenes to liberate those endangered by the Nazi's by getting them to a safe country in any way possible. Modes used were cars or trucks, train, airplane, ship or boat, or merely walking across open land to cross borders to achieve some safety. Zannis and those that worked with him had to be very careful since they hoped that those involved in assisting getting those individuals or families to a safer place could not always be trusted. Eventually Zannis was told he was a captain in the military of Greece but he mainly stayed in his own locale doing his thing helping others escape. He also had some lovers, some from other times and some new, that made him wish they were in other times but he did what he could to help others and keep a few he loved closer to him through letters when possible or in person, which was becoming more rare. Zannis traveled much by various means to reach those needing help to get to a safe place, travel that always brought more danger into his life. He even had contacts to get papers for those he assisted when they needed them. He was highly thought of by most, even some that were on the fence of their thinking with the major change coming to the area. Everyone knew what had occurred in the areas Germany had already overrun but they hoped and prayed that they would not suffer the same results in their area. If you can keep events and people together you will no doubt enjoy this book. I think it must be me that had the problem. The subject is told in action as it occurred and where it occurred.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Spies of the Balkans was okay. I am still a big fan of Furst. I hate to be critical. If you liked his prior books than this will be an okay read for you. I enjoyed the genre, the locations, and the era, was slightly disappointed in the plot and characters. Hope that the next one is better, I will buy it too, I am a loyal fan of Furst.
luckyX3 More than 1 year ago
In a recent radio interview, Alan Furst claimed that he wasn't bored by his chosen slice of history, but after his last few novels, one wonders. Spies of Warsaw reads more like an exploratory draft than a full-fledged novel. The perils are cursory, the outcome never really in doubt. The main character seems more like a daydream imagining of what Furst would like to have been than a real person. As with the previous, and equally lame, Spies of Warsaw, the short length, and short shrift given to espionage and thrills, make this seem more like a historical bodice-ripper than a spy novel. And the Rasputin-like reappearance of the Brasserie Henninger, which features in every one of Furst's novels, is by now a played out caricature that I could do without. Its turn here is especially contrived: the British secret service strong-arms the hero, a Greek police official, into going to Paris to rescue a British mathematician who somehow winds up as a tail-gunner on a Brit bomber that gets shot down. And of course no trip to Paris is complete without a stop at the Henninger, and yet another recounting of the bullet hole in the mirror. Seriously. Twice was cute, three times funny, but seven times? Enough already. Furst needs a change of scenery, or a good long sabbatical, because he's rapidly descending into schlock.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Outstandjng - story really moves along
velopunk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I find the time between September, 1939 and the German invasion of the Soviet Union extremely interesting. Nobody writes fiction about it better than Alan Furst. The main character of Spies of the Balkans is a Greek police detective who manages to help fashion an escape route from Berlin to Hungary down through the Balkans to the Greek city of Salonika where refugees may be sent on to Turkey or British Egypt.What a great read. I hope Furst continues to mine this vein.
kylenapoli on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well written, of course, but episodic. Gives me the feeling that Furst will soon be writing short stories rather than novels. Maybe eventually haiku?
KLTMD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the best of the series, a throwback to earlier books. You are immersed in blue smoke of a gauloise, listening to music by Django Rheinhart, and hearing the story of the Brassiere Heineger in Paris. His heroes are every day me, though more successful with women than the men I know, they are called upon to do the right thing in situations which broke most around them. The great race between fascism and communism between the wars is ever present and made chillingly real. Read this book for the little known role of Salonika. Read this book for its portrait of a by-gone world. Read this book for a damn good story.
RichMaguire on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wonderful read!! What courage these ordinary folks(spies) had!!
BillPilgrim on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very enjoyable story of intrigue during the Second World War. I have not read any Furst before this book, but I plan to now.
Chris469 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good adventure/spy novel. Set in the six-month time period of October 1940 to early April 1941 during World War II. The main character is a Greek detective of police in Salonika, in northern Greece. Most of the action is in Salonika, but the tale also takes the reader to Budapest, Paris, Berlin, Belgrade, and Turkish tramp steamers bound for Alexandria. There are guns, girls, gangsters, Nazi bad guys, and lots of cloak and dagger. It helps that it is pretty well-written. It has its moments of titillating romance along with the usual spy novel action, but on another level it is more generally a depressing reminder of the anxieties and dangers of day-to-day life in a Europe then dominated by Hitlerism. A good read (or unabridged audio book in this case.)
berthirsch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A suspense book that takes place in Salonika, Greece on the cusp of the Nazi invasion of the Balkans in 1941.Furst is a masterful writer who has created an unforgettable character, Costa Zannis , a police inspector and insider. He is a brave, inventive strong willed and strong armed individual. He is also a talented lover who falls in with English spies and a wealthy jewish heiress in Berlin, setting up an underground escape route for German jews.This is a most satisfying tale, well paced and suspenceful.
cameling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Greece in the early 1940s kept her wary eye on Hitler's advances through parts of Europe. Mussolini, attempting to replicate Hitler's success, decides to invade Greece, but is repelled by the Greek army. But Salonika waits for the inevitable invasion by Hitler's army and secret service.In these uncertain times, spies with different international concerns blend into Salonika society, some catching the eye of Costa Zannis, a police inspector known for his integrity, and one with a special team, working on cases that may require discretion. As the situation for Jews in Germany worsens, he gets involved in an underground movement to rescue Jews fleeing Germany, developing a system with a Jewish wife of a high ranking German officer, and another police official in Zagreb, and helping them escape to Turkey and Egypt. If that wasn't sufficiently stressful, the British secret service seek his assistance in rescuing a British scientist who managed to get himself shot down over occupied France, and bring him back to England. As the situation in Salonika deteriorates, even his own window of opportunity to get his family and lover to leave for safer shores becomes narrower.This is not merely a good spy thriller, it is also an excellent study in characters who believe in doing what's necessary to save humanity, even if it means putting their own lives at risk.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was excited to read about an area of the world I didn't know much about. The number of characters who made an appearance were at times confusing to follow. I don't expect novels, especially spy novels, to tie things up in a neat bow but this novel was difficult to follow. I will try another one of his books.
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Just fabulous!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Alan Furst continues his high quality fiction. A great balance between pace and detail. Makes you feel as though you are there but does not get bogged down in details. Spies of the Balkans covers a part of WWII not often mentioned in fiction or non-fiction. I always look forward to his books and have never been disappointed, and I have read all his work.
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jbaylen More than 1 year ago
Spies of the Balkans is another of Furst’s spy stories that draws the reader into the world of the early 1940s. His characters are interesting and believable. They do what is necessary to save lives as the Third Reich expands into the Balkans. I you liked Furst’s other books such as Dark Star and the Polish Officer, you’ll enjoy this one.
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