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Night Soldiers - Alan Furst

Fleeing persecution by fascists in his village, a Bulgarian peasant allows himself to be recruited into the Russian NKVD, the precursor to the KGB. Thus ushered into the shadowy world of espionage and the Byzantine intrigues of frightened, self-interested men with a little bit of power, Khristo Stoianev spends the next several years fleeing from one insane situation to another as he tries to make a life for himself in a Europe teetering on the brink of WWII.

I am very impressed with Alan Furst’s first entry in the Night Soldiers series and I shall certainly be reading more. His mastery of language and character elevates his work above being merely genre fiction. He peppers his narrative with hundreds of vivid, telling details that display his understanding of pre-war Europe, the people who lived there, and the competing ideologies that seemed to drive a continent insane.