A crime writer in occupied France finds himself in a plot more dangerous than any he's dreamed up.
Having been shot by the Gestapo, a man surreptitiously hands something to Paul Ricard just before dying: It appears to be a drawing specifying the technical details of a military weapon. After making some inquiries as to whom he might pass the papers to, Ricard finds himself volunteering for the Resistance and, under the guise of a journalist, traveling to Germany to make contact with the conscripted Polish workers who can explain the document. As with his other novels, Furst (A Hero of France, 2016, etc.) bases his tale on a lesser-known nugget of World War II history, in this case, the Polish laborers forced to build U-boats who took their revenge by smuggling technical information to the French Resistance, who forwarded it to British intelligence. But the tension has, for the moment, gone out of Furst's work, and the elliptical and compact writing style he developed has devolved into a kind of drifting, random series of scenes that never accumulate into more. There is still a fine sense of the details of life during wartime, the strange and pregnant heaviness that lies over the most banal activities. What's missing, though, are the moments when that heaviness bursts forth.
This is a picture of war less as a series of impossible choices than as a vaguely romantic miasma.