Here Lies: An Autobiography by Eric Ambler (1985)

Only an idiot believes that he can write the truth about himself. (p.18) This autobiography was written when Ambler was in his mid-seventies, living in tax exile in Switzerland. It has the same relaxed, urbane, ironic and amused tone of voice as his later novels. The anecdotes about family, friends, lovers, publishers and fans are […]

The Care of Time by Eric Ambler (1981)

Even the little I knew of his history made him, by any standards that had more to them than simple endurance, a considerable survivor. He had had physical strength and plenty of courage, of course, but it had been his wits that had really counted, his wits and his ability to adapt to cultures utterly […]

Send No More Roses by Eric Ambler (1977)

May guests be permitted to know what fresh disaster now postpones our detailed examination of your criminal past?’ ‘Certainly. The house is on fire.’ (p.222) This is not an accessible, easy-to-read, poolside thriller; it is something much more peculiar and oblique. Set-up The narrator, Paul Firman, is currently working for a complex nest of companies, […]

Dr Frigo by Eric Ambler (1974)

The opening is strikingly similar to the opening of The Levanter, with a professional man saying he is going to set down the true account of what really lay behind the so-and-so affair. This is Michael Howell’s story… He may not be the most persuasive of advocates in his own cause, and, as the central […]

The Levanter by Eric Ambler (1972)

After talking so much rubbish and telling so many lies I was exhausted. (p.185) Just finished reading The Dogs of War by Frederick Forsyth and was a bit hard on it for reading like a 400-page project plan, a ‘handbook for mercenaries’, rather than a novel, with a rather small (10-page) firefight at the end […]

The Intercom Conspiracy by Eric Ambler (1969)

Although the main character appears to get bumped off at the end and there are some tense moments, this is another comedy-thriller, distinguished by Ambler’s trademark cosmopolitan settings, multilingual characters and complex plot. NB. The fabula is ‘the raw material of a story, and syuzhet, the way a story is organized.’ (Wikipedia) Fabula The ageing […]

Dirty Story by Eric Ambler (1967)

‘You’re a disgusting creature, Mr Simpson. Your life is nothing but a long, dirty story.’ (p.13) Ambler is fond of featuring characters in more than one novel. The KGB agent Andreas Zaleshof plays a key role in two of the pre-War novels, and the head of Turkish security, Colonel Haki, appears in three. But this […]

To Catch A Spy edited by Eric Ambler (1964)

Seven short stories about spies, selected and with a genial introduction by Eric Ambler, who gives a useful summary of the spy genre from the turn of the century up to the early 1960s: the late-19th century background of Sherlock Holmes/Rider Haggard popular adventure yarns then suddenly the first classic spy novel, The Riddle of […]

A Kind of Anger by Eric Ambler (1964)

Mid-winter. A car comes hurtling down the drive of a remote villa near Zurich, crashes into a passing lorry, and screeches away. When police investigate they discover the place has been ransacked and the body of an exiled Iraqi soldier, Colonel Arbil – shot three times. New York-based magazine, World Reporter, tells its Paris office […]

The Light of Day by Eric Ambler (1962)

This novel starts in Athens but soon moves to Turkey, the scene of Ambler’s pre-war thrillers, Mask of Dimitrios and Journey into Fear. There’s even mention of Colonel Haki, who features in both those novels and is memorably played by Orson Welles in the short film version of Journey. The narrator The story is told […]