Red Gold

Written by Alan Furst
Review by Mark F. Johnson

As the cover art suggests, this story would make a great film noir. Jean Casson, aka Jean Louis Marin, is an unemployed film producer just trying to survive one step ahead of the Gestapo in WWII Paris. More or less because he has nothing better to do, Casson drifts into working for the Resistance movement smuggling arms. He proves to be equally skilled and lucky. Two traits that help him survive when others around him fall.

Furst expertly captures the almost hopeless attitude many of the residents of occupied Paris must have felt at the time. With no job, no money, and constant hunger, Casson decides he really doesn’t care what happens anymore. If he dies, so much the better; he may as well go out doing something useful. As an interesting subplot, Casson’s girlfriend’s boss discovers her Jewish lineage and extorts money and favors. The utter hopelessness of the situation evokes palpable anger and frustration. The ability to create strong emotions in a reader is always a sign of excellent writing, and this novel is no exception.