Josef Vadassy, a Hungarian language teacher, decides to break his journey from Nice to Paris at a windswept coastal town where his solitary nightmare begins. He collects his photographs from the chemist only to discover that the pictures are not of lizards at all, but military sites.
©1973 Eric Ambler (P)2009 Audible Ltd
at the beginning of the audio book is a brief biography of eric ambler. i normally hate it when i cannot get right into a book, but this bio was informative and moving. the book is just about perfect, as far as small spy novels go. not that the main character ever wanted to be a spy...
i read this after one of those long classics that leave you half in one world and half in another. i could not find anything to listen to, but somehow this book fit my mood to perfection. the character is presented and ambler does not let go of him until the last minute. it is dated, of course, there are no computers or any other high tech appendanges, unless you count an old 35 mm of yesteryear slipping in and out of the narrative.
the mystery unravels and is satisfying; a very fun, well-written and well performed listen. i am downloading another ambler just now.
A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
A pre-WWII closed circle mystery with all the major players (the US, Germany, France, Russia, Switzerland) represented in the Hotel de la Reserve's guest list. Not a bad novel, per se, but just not a great reluctant spy novel.
I'm not sure if it is just my luck, my laziness, or just a weird random coincidence, but I usually start reading great genre novelists with a mediocre piece. I will read more Ambler not because of this novel, but because I KNOW how my luck works with spy fiction. Next time, I will research his better pieces and start there.
As I listened with my Vintage Crime edition on my lap, reading along, I noticed that the audio version deviated many times from the Vintage Crime/Black Lizard edition. I'm not sure if the Audiobook version was dumb-ed down or what, but there were several times when words like Bolshevik were replaced with Communist, and lines were added for clarification. It was as if the audio-producers wanted to make sure that our hands were held through the entire book. Anyway, it was a little annoying, but still not bad.
After reading the wonderful book, Uncommon Danger, by the same author, I immediately bought this one as well. This one is not nearly as engaging and thrilling. The writing is fine, but two thirds of the book is character development.
Looking forward to listening to all of Ambler's works. He has a way to make a book seem longer than it is (in a good way). The plot flows smoothly chapter to chapter. The characters are well done and complemented well with excellent narration. This book is also a sort of "who done it" type of book, so I would recommend that you listen carefully to the names of the cast of characters as they are presented in the book. It will help you enjoy the book in the later chapters.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
David Holt did a great job of reading this story. I enjoyed the forward to the book as it gave more insight to Ambler and how he changed the spy genre. This book sort of gives you the idea how an ordinary person might react trying to find out who is the spy. Interesting story.
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