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A Hero of France
Cover of A Hero of France
A Hero of France
Night Soldiers Series, Book 14
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
  • From the bestselling master espionage writer, hailed by Vince Flynn as "the best in the business," comes a riveting novel about the French Resistance in Nazi-occupied Paris.
    NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST
    1941. The City of Light is dark and silent at night. But in Paris and in the farmhouses, barns, and churches of the French countryside, small groups of ordinary men and women are determined to take down the occupying forces of Adolf Hitler. Mathieu, a leader of the French Resistance, leads one such cell, helping downed British airmen escape back to England.
    Alan Furst's suspenseful, fast-paced thriller captures this dangerous time as no one ever has before. He brings Paris and occupied France to life, along with courageous citizens who outmaneuver collaborators, informers, blackmailers, and spies, risking everything to fulfill perilous clandestine missions. Aiding Mathieu as part of his covert network are Lisette, a seventeen-year-old student and courier; Max de Lyon, an arms dealer turned nightclub owner; Chantal, a woman of class and confidence; Daniel, a Jewish teacher fueled by revenge; Joëlle, who falls in love with Mathieu; and Annemarie, a willful aristocrat with deep roots in France, and a desire to act.
    As the German military police heighten surveillance, Mathieu and his team face a new threat, dispatched by the Reich to destroy them all.
    Shot through with the author's trademark fine writing, breathtaking suspense, and intense scenes of seduction and passion, Alan Furst's A Hero of France is at once one of the finest novels written about the French Resistance and the most gripping novel yet by the living master of the spy thriller.
    Praise for Alan Furst
    "Furst never stops astounding me."—Tom Hanks
    "Suspenseful and sophisticated . . . No espionage author, it seems, is better at summoning the shifting moods and emotional atmosphere of Europe before the start of World War II than Alan Furst."—The Wall Street Journal
    "Though set in a specific place and time, 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
    "[Furst] remains at the top of his game."—The New York Times
    "A grandmaster of the historical espionage genre."—The Boston Globe
  • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
  • From the bestselling master espionage writer, hailed by Vince Flynn as "the best in the business," comes a riveting novel about the French Resistance in Nazi-occupied Paris.
    NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST
    1941. The City of Light is dark and silent at night. But in Paris and in the farmhouses, barns, and churches of the French countryside, small groups of ordinary men and women are determined to take down the occupying forces of Adolf Hitler. Mathieu, a leader of the French Resistance, leads one such cell, helping downed British airmen escape back to England.
    Alan Furst's suspenseful, fast-paced thriller captures this dangerous time as no one ever has before. He brings Paris and occupied France to life, along with courageous citizens who outmaneuver collaborators, informers, blackmailers, and spies, risking everything to fulfill perilous clandestine missions. Aiding Mathieu as part of his covert network are Lisette, a seventeen-year-old student and courier; Max de Lyon, an arms dealer turned nightclub owner; Chantal, a woman of class and confidence; Daniel, a Jewish teacher fueled by revenge; Joëlle, who falls in love with Mathieu; and Annemarie, a willful aristocrat with deep roots in France, and a desire to act.
    As the German military police heighten surveillance, Mathieu and his team face a new threat, dispatched by the Reich to destroy them all.
    Shot through with the author's trademark fine writing, breathtaking suspense, and intense scenes of seduction and passion, Alan Furst's A Hero of France is at once one of the finest novels written about the French Resistance and the most gripping novel yet by the living master of the spy thriller.
    Praise for Alan Furst
    "Furst never stops astounding me."—Tom Hanks
    "Suspenseful and sophisticated . . . No espionage author, it seems, is better at summoning the shifting moods and emotional atmosphere of Europe before the start of World War II than Alan Furst."—The Wall Street Journal
    "Though set in a specific place and time, 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
    "[Furst] remains at the top of his game."—The New York Times
    "A grandmaster of the historical espionage genre."—The Boston Globe
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    Excerpts-
    • From the book chapter 1

      You must not meet their eyes . . .

      Occupied Paris, the tenth day of March, 1941.

      At eight-­twenty in the evening, the man known to his Resistance cell as Mathieu waited in a doorway where he could watch the entry of the Métro station on the Boulevard Richard-­Lenoir. He tried to look beyond the entry, at the tree-­lined boulevard, but there wasn't much to be seen, only shapes in the night—­the streetlamps had been painted blue and the windows of apartment buildings draped or shuttered in the blackout ordered by the German Occupation Authority. A sad thing, he thought, a dark and silent city. Silent because the Germans had forbidden the use of cars, buses, and taxis. But in that silence, nightingales could be heard singing in the parks, and in that darkness the streets were lit by silvery moonlight when the clouds parted.

      A night earlier, at the same Métro, Mathieu had noticed a gray bicycle, bound to the trunk of a chestnut tree by a stout chain. Now he saw that it was still there. Bicycles had never been more valuable, and soon enough this one would be stolen if its owner did not retrieve it. Where was he? What had happened to him? In a cell at some police Préfecture? Possibly. But if the Paris police arrested you, friends or family would be notified and someone would have come for the bicycle. Maybe its owner was floating in the Seine—­a bad fate but not the worst fate, the worst fate was to be taken by the Gestapo. And if that were so he might never be heard of again: Nacht und Nebel, night and fog, Hitler's very own invention; people disappeared and nobody would ever find out what had become of them. They went out to do an errand and never returned. A sharp lesson for family and friends, punished forever by their imaginations.

      Now the ground trembled beneath Mathieu's feet and he could hear a rumble from down below as the train pulled into the station. Moments later, the passengers appeared, climbing up the stairway to the boulevard. They were still wearing winter clothes because it was cold in the city, apartments and offices barely heated for want of coal. As the crowd emerged, one woman caught his eye, she was lovely to look at; the face of a fallen angel, and dressed in the latest Paris fashion: she wore ski pants—­warmer than a skirt—­a ski jacket, and boots. She was lucky to have the boots; some passengers wore clogs, wood-­soled shoes, as there was no leather to be had for repair. To Mathieu, the passengers looked tired and worn—­they might well have looked like that at the end of a working day before the war but for Mathieu the weariness was different, deeper. Lately one heard the expression Je suis las, it meant I am tired of the way I have to live my life, and this was what Mathieu saw in their faces, in the way they walked. But then, he would think that, he cared for the people of Paris, as though he were a guardian. The woman in the ski jacket returned his look; a glance, nothing flirtatious, rueful perhaps, in other times than these . . .

      Ah, at last, here was Lisette, seventeen years old, a lycée student. She appeared not to notice him but, as she walked past the doorway, she said, her voice low and confidential, "They have crossed the border. They're in Spain."

      12 March. In Senlis, thirty miles north of Paris, RAF sergeant Arthur Gillen was hiding in the cellar of a barbershop.

      At six-­thirty in the evening, Mathieu found him sitting on a blanket—­as much of a bed as he had—­and whittling a block of wood with a clasp knife. Looking up at Mathieu he...
    About the Author-
    • Alan Furst, widely recognized as the master of the historical spy novel, is the author of Midnight in Europe, Mission to Paris, and many other bestsellers. Born in New York, he lived for many years in Paris, and now lives on Long Island.
    Reviews-
    • Publisher's Weekly

      Starred review from April 25, 2016
      A master of the historical spy novel, Furst scores again with his 14th suspense story (after Midnight in Europe). This excellent spy thriller is set in Paris, March to August 1941, with the French Resistance movement covertly opposing the German occupation of the City of Light, early in World War II. Mathieu runs a Resistance cell that helps downed British airmen escape to Spain, always operating under the threat of exposure, betrayal, and arrest. Mathieu and the men and women of his cell are watchful and careful with their trust, for the Vichy police and the German Gestapo are sneaky, efficient, and brutal. The cell is small and well-organized, aided by an ethnology professor, a shady nightclub owner, a regal society matron, a Jewish schoolteacher, a female aristocrat, and a teenage girl. Their clandestine operations are very successful, attracting the unwelcome attention of a mysterious British spy, “a citizen of the shadows,” a French communist agent, a blackmailing underworld thug, and the most dangerous adversary of all, a German police inspector, Otto Broehm, sent specifically to Paris to destroy Mathieu’s cell. The inspector is a thorough planner, creating a clever, careful scheme to penetrate Mathieu’s cell. Mathieu must navigate or neutralize all these threats, resulting in a tense, well-crafted tale of courage, sacrifice, and wartime espionage. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM.

    • Kirkus

      April 1, 2016
      A Resistance leader in Nazi-occupied France attempts to keep his lines of escape open in this lyrical spy novel. This is Furst's (Midnight in Europe, 2014, etc.) 14th novel about espionage in World War II Europe, and his mastery of both the era and his craft is so complete that the book proceeds with a nonchalant ease. The anecdotal plot follows the Resistance leader Mathieu from early spring through late summer 1941, with a brief coda set in '44. It's a significant period in the war: Britain is stepping up its bombing raids; routes of escape are narrowing; Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union is about to bring French Communists into the Resistance. Mathieu goes about the business of securing funds, managing message drops, hiding downed British and Polish pilots, and finding ways to smuggle them back to England so they can continue fighting. All of that is engrossing and told in Furst's compressed poetic style. But the romantic heart of the book lies in the way it extols what, under the Occupation, remains of the sensual pleasures of life, the pleasures that are presented to us as the very opposite of what the Nazis stand for. For Mathieu, that's the love affair he's enjoying with a neighbor, the dog at his residential hotel who has adopted him, the occasional bit of meat or cheese he can get on the black market. This daydream of life under the Occupation is something rare: a suspense novel that offers the pleasures of relaxation.

      COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

    • Library Journal

      January 1, 2016
      Again blending espionage-wrought suspense with a keen sense of history, Furst returns to occupied Paris for the first time since 1999's "Red Gold". He throws us into the midst of the French Resistance as he moves from the dimmed City of Light to Rouen and Orleans in a tale that's equal parts intrigue, gutsiness, and romance.

      Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Alan Furst
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