Furst sets the tone early in this one, a wonderfully macabre scene in a shadowed alley, and an imminent political assassination.
The story follows Carlo Weisz, a journalist, though mainly his involvement with the underground press; a dissident movement of Italian émigrés in Paris, who fight fascism through the distribution of the newspaper Liberazione. Unfortunately for Weisz and his ragtag band of activists/intelligentsia, Mussolini's secret police are as active, and as brutal, in Paris as they are in Rome.
It's essentially a tale of life in the late 1930's, and of the risks ordinary men and women faced in taking a stand against fascism and communism. The dangers of printing and circulating free speech in a time of repression, while eking out a living beneath the gathering clouds of war. There are battle-hardened war veterans, classic British spies, and naturally an impassioned love story that drives Weisz onward.
As always, Furst is able to effortlessly paint evocative atmospheres with only a few choice words, his ability to conjure moods and ambiance are second to none. Fans of his work will also appreciate the customary nod to the Brasserie Heininger, with the added twist of a few famous, recurring characters having a soirée.
The story is grounded in the morality of the times, in what ordinary people will do and how much they will risk for their conscience. While the ending might seem a bit rushed, ultimately, this is a tale that is very much about savouring the journey, rather than racing toward the destination. It doesn't go down as a fan favourite in certain circles, but is highly enjoyable for fans of the genre, and Furst's work in particular.
4.5 / 5.0