About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Spies in the Balkans by Alan Furst

48. – 561.) Spies in the Balkans by Alan Furst – Constantine “Costa” Zannis is a multi-lingual, 40 year old single Greek senior police officer handling “special” cases for the Commissioner in Salonika as World War II is descending on Greece in 1940 and 1941. He is not a government secret agent but moves skillfully through the shadowy world of doubtful deal makers and organized crime. He is a profoundly moral man who allows himself to be drawn into helping Jews escape from the Third Reich as the Final Solution draws near. There is no financial reward for his participation. There are no tangible benefits to getting involved. He is simply a good man doing his best to help the persecuted in a cruel world. Costa is not a cartoon figure blazing away at the bad guys. At the same time he is a brave man willing to take real risks. As a Greek whose family and friends fought for independence from Turkey but a generation earlier I believe he identifies with the plight of the Jews. Inevitably the real intelligence agencies seek to use his talents. Unlike most fictional “spies” Costa has a loving family relationship and a rather complex love life. Tension builds inexorably as the German invasion looms. The excruciating choices of men and women facing war are vivid. Furst creates drama without mounds of bodies. The people and plot are so realistic, so different from Rules of Betrayal. At the same time he provides a credible resolution that is not the bitter ending of most Le Carre novels. It is a subtle engaging book. Excellent (Dec. 27/10)

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