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I might need to rethink this and give it five stars. It is still gnawing at me a couple days later. Ambler's thriller centers on a British poet that travels to a Balkan/Eastern European dictatorship to cover the show trial of Papa Deltchev for treason.
It is a thriller that owes a lot to Kafka and to Buchan's The 39 Steps. Ambler slowly unravels the conspiracy wrapped around conspiracy as Foster (the poet narrator) uncovers the truth about the former leader and his family. It is hard to read these Ambler novels without seeing the future novels by le Carré, Furst, & Steinhauer standing behind every closed door and lurking in every dark shadow. The novel is worth the read just for the kangaroo court scenes.
12 of 16 people found this review helpful
This is one of the finest books of Eric Ambler. The narration is good and the book keeps you agog with tension till the very end. Great experience.
A pacy thriller set in a Soviet-style country just after the Second World War. It pre-dates John Le Carre but reminds me of the latter. Complex political intrigues, lots of characters which sometimes led me to lose the plot. It was mostly a riveting story of the helplessness a person can feel in a totalitarian state, where justice is absent and punishment swift and heartless. Tim Bentinck did an excellent job giving different vices to the characters which did help in identifying who was whom.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful