Eric Ambler obituary

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Jul 15 08:51:57 MDT 2003

David McDonald wrote:
> I know of three central characters in Ambler's opus that are carried over
> from one novel to another.
> First is the team of Russian spies, Alexander Prokovitch Zaleshoff and his
> sister Tamara Prokovna. They are next-to central characters first in Cause
> for Alarm, about an English engineer working temporarily in Italy who runs
> afoul of fascist types and is aided by the Russians. They next appear in
> Background to Danger, in which the hero, an unemployed writer, gets caught
> up in a fascist gang's attempt provoke an incident that might lead to an
> invasion of an oil-rich country. Really scary fascists, by the way.

Am in the middle of "Cause for Alarm" right now. Just great stuff. The
hero is an unemployed engineer, who has the same difficulties finding a
job as his counterparts in the USA today. He ends up working in fascist
Italy as a last resort.

> Second is the beloved Arthur Abdul Simpson, half-British, by far the most
> venal of Ambler's heroes, whose character was played by Peter Ustinov in the
> movie "Topkapi," which is about robbing a museum in Istambul. Simpson also
> appears in "Eric Ambler's Dirty Story."

I just discovered that Ambler wrote "Topkapi" while doing an Internet
Movie Database search. A great movie directed by Jules Dassin. I discuss
in the course of my "Istanbul Notes" at:

> But Lou, whence these occcasional postings on Ambler?

I wrote a review of "A Coffin for Dimitrios" for Swans that is pending.
I read it in a 1970 anthology that also contained "Journey Into Fear"
that I commented on a couple of days ago. After I am done with "Cause
For Alarm", I will review that as well as "Background to Danger", which
is included in the anthology. I did not have plans to read all four
novels, but they are such a great treat that I can't resist them. I am
one of the world's greatest Graham Green fans. I should mention that the
contemporary spy novelist Alan Furst, who I have never read, has been
compared favorably to Ambler and Green. Will get around to reading him
first chance I get.


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