People Staff
March 26, 2001 12:00 PM

by Alan Furst

Diplomats. Dossiers. Defectors. It’s all in a day’s work when you’re a handsome Hungarian aristocrat in 1938 Paris, breaking hearts and faking passports. As the Nazis slash across Europe, Nicholas Morath is a one-man resistance, dashing in and out of Hitler’s jaws on various missions impossible. Inevitably there are businesslike murders, border guards saying, “Papers, please,” and cocktails at 5 for the sumptuously doomed. Furst conjures up so much eve-of-war atmosphere you can almost smell the Gauloises and betrayal, and his field-stripped language suits a cynical hero: “The two of them had discussed strategy, coming up with the plan that couldn’t go wrong and what to do once it did.” Too bad the unreflective, even cold Morath remains a mystery. (Random House, $24.95)

Bottom Line: James Bond minus the wisecracks

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