"Blood of Victory" By Alan Furst
Reviewed by Eric Renderking Fisk | September 14th, 2017
There are few modern authors who I strongly believe should be on everyone’s “Must Read” list, and for fellow ‘Dieselpunks’ (Fedora aficionados, Jazz-Era stylists, World War 2 history students, Film Noir addicts, and other rogues and scoundrels that fit The Fedora Chronicles Demographic,) that list is especially shorter. If you are with-in the target audience of our website then without a doubt Alan Furst’s work deserves space on the top shelf of your favorite bookshelf since the author writes about most of our favorite topics, spies and resistance fighters against Nazi Germany in the late thirties and early forties. BLOOD OF VICTORY is another one of his entries into his “Night Solders” series that will be bought, read, and well-worn before being put on your shelf.
Each page is dense with deep thoughts and meaning thanks to his economy of words, Alan Furst says more in a mere sentence than many other authors say in pages.
This is the “typical” novel by Alan Furst about everyday people living ordinary lives in Europe during the beginning of the war and who are swept up into the cause against Nazi Germany. This time the novel is about a Russian writer I. A. Serebin who is an exile in French but travels back and forth to Romania to see his ailing girlfriend and eventually recruited into a plot that began with the British Secret Service to stop the flow of oil from Romania to Nazi Germany. That cause is taken up by a group of colorful characters that another reviewer called ‘colorful misfits,’ who make it absolutely sure that they make Serebin aware that his participation isn’t a choice.
Like the other novels I’ve read so far by Alan Furst, much of the text covers the issue of exactly how many people are ‘recruited’ into the resistance against Nazi Germany – The Resistance does an excellent job by getting new members into their groups using means of intimidation, extortion, intimidation, or mere guilt. In the case of “BLOOD OF VICTORY,” we get inside the head and understand the thought process of our hero Serebin and understand his final decision to ‘join,’ – what else is a refugee from Russia living in Nazi occupied France supposed to do?
Were it not for the war, many of the fun characters in this novel would be hardened criminals who would otherwise have been chased by the ‘heroes’ of the police. Because this is war, the criminal element are the heroes. Alan Furst sort of addresses this concept but only to the extent of great exposition dialog.
The rest of the suspense centers around the espionage plot to slow the flow of oil that is fueling the Nazi War machine. In “Blood Of Victory,” the goal is to simply use barges and large steam engines to cause navigation hazards in the Danube River by sinking them at a strategic point. It’s amazing how fascinating Mr. Furst can make something as mundane like starting fictitious companies line a Mining Cooperation to fool the Nazi’s into believing that the demand for specific machines and supplies is legitimate, only to turn around and use that ‘legitimate supply line’ as an act of defiance and hinder that same Nazi bureaucracy in the first place.
Also, much of “BLOOD OF VICTORY” is also a comedy of errors… the resistance needs “A” to get “B” so they can get “C” and then finally reach their goal of “D” – but they need “C” before they can start at “A…”
So many people have quoted this sentence when talking about Alan Furst’s work - Walter Shapiro of Time magazine wrote, "Nothing can be like watching Casablanca for the first time, but Furst comes closer than anyone has in years." But for me, “BLOOD OF VICTORY” is a lot like reading the novelization of the greatest movie of all time that you haven’t seen yet. It’s almost as if someone reached through a portal into an alternate dimension and plucked the novelization of a sequel to “Raiders of The Lost Ark” written by Campbell Black that doesn’t exist in our universe.
Like so many novels by Alan Furst, with the strong plot and amazing characters “BLOOD OF VICTORY” is the novel that your favorite movie is based upon but that movie hasn’t been made yet.