An Italian journalist joins forces with fellow expatriates in Paris to subvert the Fascist government at home, while he sinks into love with a German aristocrat.
At ease again in the time and territory he has carved out for himself in such fine fashion, Furst (Dark Voyage, 2004; Blood of Victory, 2002) sets the stage here with a murder. The dapper, aging editor of Liberazione, a subversive newspaper published by anti-Mussolini intellectuals in France, is executed by a Fascist hit team while in the arms of his mistress. His job goes to Carlo Weisz, a half-German scribbler from Trieste who, like his colleagues, has fled for his life from the thugs who stole Italy in 1922. Weisz is, like all great Furst heroes, at first view anything but heroic. Fortyish and a loner, the Reuters reporter, newly returned from covering the Spanish Civil War, lives in seedy digs, dallying with a lovely Parisian he does not love, dining alone in neighborhood bistros, observing the coming catastrophe. The little newspaper to which he donates his time is his one effort to stick it to the criminals in power in Rome. Smuggled into Italy by a network of resistance workers, Liberazione is printed in Genoa under the noses of the authorities and distributed throughout the country by high-school girls. It is enough of an annoyance to the fascisti that the lives of all contributors are at risk, and Weisz, as editor, is first now on the hit list of OVRA, the nasty Italian organization hunting enemies of the state. He’s also watched by interested British intelligence teams. An assignment to report events in Berlin reunites Weisz with old love Christa von Schirren, now married to a Prussian aristocrat. Christa is also involved with resistance efforts, perhaps even more dangerously than Weisz. As the great dark forces of the age close in on the couple, Weisz finds it necessary to strike a deal with those slippery Brits.
Who knows why this stuff is so deeply satisfying? But it most surely is.