Having recently read and reviewed the thirteenth out of fourteen novels in the Night Soldiers series which I enjoyed enormously, I thought I would try one earlier in the series, randomly picking number four, published way back in 1996. Not quite as good in plot and character development, but superlative in describing and evoking what occupied Paris and France may have been like in 1940 after the Germans waltzed in. A frightening and confusing place - who can be trusted, who is watching you, keeping your head down, queuing up for bread, sorting ration cards, what you are willing to do to get food, petrol, out of Paris, out of France, citizens now refugees leaving the city with nowhere to go or means of getting there.

Jean Casson is a film producer, lives a good life, divorced, more women than he knows what to do with. When the Germans arrive, and the French government gives in without a fight, it sets something off in Casson. He realises he is still crazy in love with the beautiful Citrine, an actress who has fled to the south of France. Jean himself is asked to produce a movie which may or may not be Nazi propaganda, and may or may not be run by a bunch of allied spies or Nazi spies, and in the process, somehow, gets involved with a group of money smugglers. His first trip is to Spain where things don't go entirely to plan, bringing him to the attention of the German occupiers. And then his problems really start, always trying to stay just one step ahead of the SS. So pretty good plot line really, but it is all sort of disconnected, things happen and you can't quite recollect how the happening happened. Despite going back through the pages looking for the connection.

I expect living in France during this time was quite surreal and disorienting.  This certainly comes through in the writing, a frightening and horrible time. So maybe the loosely held threads are supposed to be like that. But there is no getting away from the vivid descriptions of Paris and France, the fear of the population, the brutality of the Germans, and the looking away of many of the locals. Suspicion and betrayal saturating the air. It's not a bad read, but could be better. 

1 comment:

  1. I love the novels of AF and appreciate your reviews. The rise of fascism around the world today makes reading them a training exercize in how to resist.