Furst does more than take us deep inside his chosen period; he writes as if he is at a table in a Paris brasserie in that era, within spitting or kissing distance of spies and emigres and ladies of no particular morals. Or in a lokanta in Istanbul, taking notes as an uncomfortably beautiful girl recites a memorized message in a language she does not understand, watched by a man with a pencil mustache who is smoking Balkan sobranies.
Furst told a reporter who visited him in Sag Harbor (where I used to live) that his craft involves "teleportation" and that he realized this when he was listening to a tape of Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli playing in Paris with the Hot Club in 1937 - and found himself transported to the cabaret, smelling the smoke and perfume, feeling he knew everyone there.
I think literary teleportation is an excellent idea, especially for a novelist who wants to know his characters in their own time and situation.
Furst's characters often repair to the "Brasserie Heininger", a composite locale partly inspired by Bofinger in the 4th arrondissement. I have chosen a picture of my own favorite Parisian brasserie, the celebrated Au pied du cochon, at the edge of Les Halles; in wilder days I watched the sun come up here, over a bowl of soupe à l'oignon gratinée and a bottle of Côtes du Rhône, among whispering shades that now speak clearly, in a dozen Central European accents, through Alan Furst.