New York: Berkley Books, 1983. Berkley Edition [stated] Presumed first printing. Mass market paperback. , 243,  pages. Cover worn, soiled and creased. Corner of rear cover gone. While on a ship bound for Turkey, an armaments expert discovers that he is the intended victim of a murder plot. Eric Clifford Ambler OBE (28 June 1909 – 22 October 1998) was an English author of thrillers, in particular spy novels, who introduced a new realism to the genre. Also working as a screenwriter, Ambler used the pseudonym Eliot Reed for books co-written with Charles Rodda. When the Second World War broke out, Ambler entered the army as a private soldier. He was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1941. He was soon reassigned to photographic units. He ended the war as a lieutenant-colonel and an assistant director of the Army Film and Photographic Unit. After the war, he worked in the civilian film industry as a screenwriter, receiving an Academy Award nomination for his work on the film The Cruel Sea (1953), adapted from the novel by Nicholas Monsarrat. He did not resume writing under his own name until 1951, when he entered the second of his two distinct periods in his writing. Five of his six early works are regarded as classic thrillers. He created the 1960 American detective TV series Checkmate. Ambler's best-known works are probably The Mask of Dimitrios (1939), which was made into a film in 1944, and The Light of Day (1962), filmed in 1964 as Topkapi. Other classic movies based on his work include Journey into Fear (1943), starring Joseph Cotten, and an original screenplay, The October Man (1947). Journey into Fear is a 1940 spy thriller novel by Eric Ambler. Film adaptations were released in 1943 and 1975. As common in Ambler's books, the protagonist is not a professional spy, and is clearly out of his depth. Indeed, the chief Nazi treats him with open contempt, which for much of the book seems amply justified. Yet ultimately the German professional pays dearly for underestimating this amateur — another plot element which was to be repeated in later Ambler books. The book came to be regarded as a classic among spy thrillers, setting out what became some of the genre's basic conventions and immensely influencing later works including the James Bond series. In fact, Ian Fleming's From Russia With Love shares many plot elements with "Journey into Fear". In both books, the protagonist sets out on several days of a journey westwards from Istanbul, during which his life would be in dire danger at every moment; in both there is a Turkish ally who was supposed to guard the protagonist's back but who gets murdered, leaving the protagonist completely exposed; and in both the protagonist is captured by his foes, comes very close to being summarily killed, and is only able to survive and turn the tables by a desperate last-minute improvisation. Part of the book's lasting charm is its capturing the atmosphere and mindset of the "Phony War" phase during which it was written: France is standing strong and nobody predicts the fall of France within a few months; the Italians are strictly neutral and there is no suggestion that they are about to ally with Germany against Britain; and so on. From the book it seems that Ambler—like many Britons at the time of writing—expected the war to be more or less a replay of the First World War. Turkey, neutral for most of the Second World War, was a potential important participant. Both Britain and Germany spent considerable effort in trying to get Turkey to join the war on their side - or, failing that, at least ensure it does not join the other side. Thus, though the plot of Ambler's book is fictional, it is set against a very concrete and real background - and at the time of writing, no one could have known for certain what Turkey's part in the war would be. According to Norman Stone, Amber's early novels are "halfway between Buchan and Bond, and the difference is the cinema." Thrillers had to be fast-paced to compete with films. Ambler himself had worked on many films. Stone praised Amber's research on Turkey and Istanbul, and suggested the Orson Welles film adaptation was made as part of a propaganda campaign to encourage Turkey to give up its neutrality in World War 2. Condition: Fair.
Keywords: Espionage, Murder, Spies, Armaments, International Intrigue, Law Enforcement, Counter-espionage, Secret Agent, Dancers, Courtesan, Flirtation, Deception