It was a time of great uncertainty and upheaval in America. A time of grand, expansive plans as a small part of the population enjoyed untold prosperity. It was also when the ability to survive yet another day was a small plodding measure of success. One man pierced the veil of darkness attempting to bring a modicum of hope and light to the beleaguered inhabitants of his city. He is vengeance. He is the night. He knows where to find you and what you fear. He is... the Ghost of Manhattan. Hold on for just a minute. Is it just me, or does that not sound amazingly familiar to anyone that has read a comic book in the last seventy-five years or seen a movie this millennium?
There is something supremely satisfying, and a bit nostalgic, in reading classic thriller novels. The classics seem fresh, nuanced, with rich full characters that are multifaceted and contradictory. Newer forays into the genre seem cliched or formulaic. Even the newer pieces by the classic authors fall prey to this issue. Eric Ambler’s Cause for Alarm was only the fourth novel he wrote back in 1936 - publishing it in September of 1938 - and considered remarkable for its prophetic tone. Most of us in the 21st century forget, to the average person in 1938 World War 2 wasn’t inevitable, or at least so it didn’t seem.
“Fontreux,” Alex continued, “is and has been one of the primary manufacturers of aircraft engines and parts to the French government. They are an essential part of the supply chain for eighty five percent of fighter engine parts and seventy two percent of rotary wing engine manufacturing for the French military. “And the Bank is to provide the bulk of the initial investment in the expansion.” “There is just one issue that may interfere.” Stevens had come to Annex B of the internal portion of the prospectus. “Oh yes. This could be a problem,” Stevens mused turning to Alex.
Running a functioning democracy is tough. It’s even tougher when you’ve never run one before. If your functioning democracy isn’t even really a functioning democracy but rather a thinly veiled repressive authoritarian single party dictatorship, well, that could get you killed.
It takes a special sort of author to open their book with one of the main characters dead. It takes a really good author to have their books main protagonist be a jaded opium addict. It takes an exceptional author to do both. The Quiet American is a parable, asking us to make sure we don’t fight just for our own ends but to truly question the world around us and make sure we make the correct hard choices.
Epitaph For A Spy by Eric Ambler My rating: 4 of 5 stars I began my foray into the thriller genre back in the mid to late 1990’s. This trip began, like most people that began reading thrillers in the 90’s, with the venerable Tom Clancy and his seminal work Red Storm Rising. Oddly, one …