Saturday, February 7, 2009

Blood of Victory (book review)

I read Blood of Victory by Alan Furst for Annie’s What’s In a Name - 2 challenge, in the body part category. The “blood” in the title is not a body part, though, but oil, specifically the Romanian oil needed by the Nazis in World War II. The plot concerns British attempts to stop the flow of Romanian oil to Germany early in the war.

I.A. Serebin is a Russian journalist living in Paris. While in Istanbul, he is recruited by the British for their operation to stop the flow of oil to Germany. The story moves from Istanbul to Paris, Bucharest, the Black Sea, and Belgrade as Serebin tries to put together an operation to stop the oil barges from moving along the Danube River. Various characters, including Serebin’s lover, move in and out of the plot as it winds its way along.

Alan Furst has a reputation for novels written with incredible historical accuracy, and Blood of Victory appears to be no exception. The characters and action don’t appear at all contrived. At the same time, though, I found it difficult to warm up to the characters, to really feel as though I knew them, perhaps because not much background information is given. The reader sees the characters as they are in the action of the plot but doesn’t really get a feel for how they got there, or how they got to be the way. And the characters figure much more in the plot than does the action; Blood of Victory is not written in the typical spy-thriller vein. The story is told much more through the characters than though the action.

If you’re looking for a traditional spy or war thriller, with lots of action, you might want to give Blood of Victory a pass. If, however, you have a real interest in the history of World War II or the psychology behind the characters, then Blood of Victory might be just your cup of tea.

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