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Reading journal: Epitaph for a Spy by Eric Ambler

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Genre: Espionage Published: 1952 Date read: September 2018 Set in the years between WW1 and WW2, this is a chilling story. Josef Vadassy is a teacher living in France, but he is vulnerable because he is stateless, one of many people left adrift after the messy treaties following WW1. He is holidaying on the Riviera, but he becomes a suspect in a case of espionage and is blackmailed into helping the police solve the case. His confusion, his fear, and his feeble attempts to get out of the trap are exactly what anyone would feel. Life is not the movies, and we are all helpless in the merciless grasp of officialdom. No happy endings here. A brilliant book.

Reading journal: Cause for Alarm by Eric Ambler

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Genre: Espionage Published: 1938 Read: March 2018 Europe in 1938 was preparing for war. This story follows the adventures of Nick Marlow, a British engineer sent to work in Milan. He falls, unprepared, into a cauldron of spying, deception, surveillance, bribery, Fascists, Communists, and betrayals, ending with a tense escape across the border into the relative safety of Yugoslavia. Ambler is a great writer. Look at the wonderful use of language here to describe Marlow’s friend Zaleshoff He had a way of disconcerting you with a gesture, with the way he timed his phrases. Yet you could not quite discover why you had been disconcerted. You received the impression that you were watching a very competent actor using all the technical tricks in his repertoire in an effort to make something of a badly written part. There was something about him which cried out for analysis and yet defied it. I glanced sideways at him. His chin was tucked inside the thick grey muffler that he wore