Christián Ferrar is a lawyer and Spanish émigré who lives in Paris during the time of the Spanish Civil War. He wants to do what he can for the Spanish Republic against the fascists. The Republican government contacts him to help with the occasional arms deal. Getting arms is difficult, because the fascist governments of Europe are on the other side. Besides, the US and other countries have banned sales of weapons to the Republic because of atrocities committed by the communists.
Working with Ferrar on these dangerous transactions is a Swiss citizen named Max de Lyon who used to be an arms dealer. The two of them get into some sticky situations during missions to Poland and Odessa.
For someone doing secret work, Ferrar is oddly unsuspicious of a Spanish marquesa who comes to his office to consult him and seems open to his advances. It was so obvious to me that she was a spy that I’m giving away a plot point.
I occasionally enjoy a good spy thriller and had heard good things about Furst, but I did not find Midnight in Europe involving. None of the characters have much depth, and Furst doesn’t successfully build any tension. I remember enjoying an earlier book of Furst’s years ago, so perhaps my problem is that I have lately been reading the master, John Le Carré.
This period is a fascinating one, and I would have hoped Furst would do more with it. For one thing, he explains very little about the war, seeming to assume that everyone will automatically know the Republic is the good guys. Perhaps he thought that explanations would slow down the action, but the action never really gets going. Interestingly, he only mentions atrocities committed by the side we’re supposed to favor, although there were plenty on the other side. He does a better job evoking the growing threat from Nazi Germany.