Friday, June 4, 2010

Keeping Watch on Alan Furst's Whereabouts--Two Events on June 17th

It's something you always dream about saying, and then you can...

I just read my first Furst.

It's his new novel, Spies of the Balkans, and though I don't like to talk about books too much before they are out, sometimes you have to, like when your event is just after the book releases. Furst doesn't write in series, but most of his novels are World-War II era, so the continuity is in the world he creates.

Costa Zannis is a policeman from Salonika who (in the story’s prelude) spots a German spy with some incriminating photographs. It turns out that Zannis’ life is more filled with intrigue than he realizes. Someone very close is keeping an eye on him, to see if he can help out in the war effort. And then a wealthy and powerful Jew seeks his help to facilitate the evacuation of other Jews to Turkey. His only roadblock to a higher calling is a dangerous obsession with the wife of a wealthy local businessman. Oh, and the impending bombing.

Calling Furst’s novels “spy thriller” can be a bit misleading; the story is very character driven, and the plotting is very subtle. Unlike many thrillers, it’s closer to real life than cartoon, and that makes it all the more powerful. That said, it's nice that we created an espionage subsection so that we can do a little cross-merchandising.

Though Alan Furst has visited Milwaukee several times, he's never been to the Safe House, Milwaukee's legendary spy bar. And since Furst is considered one of the finest espionage writers out there, it seemed like a natural.

Here's the setup for Thursday, June 17th:
At 7 PM, we will have a traditional author talk and signing at Boswell Book Company on Downer Avenue.
At 9 PM, the party moves to the Safe House, where toast the success of Furst's latest novel. It will not be a full talk-signing, just a short welcome and a few words from the author.

Think of it like when everyone gather together after the event while the author is signing and the Boswellians say, "It's 9 PM, we're closing. Why don't you continue the conversation at at one of the coffee shops or bars on the block?"

And yes, if you want a book signed, we will be selling books at the Safe House too. You can skip the event at Boswell (am I really saying this?) and head straight over to Front Street.

Some things you need to know abou the Safe House:
a) There's a password. I'm not telling.
b) There's a cover charge, but if you print out this blog post, you can avoid it.
c) You haven't ever been to anyplace like it.

Just be careful of being double-crossed.

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