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Journey Into Fear

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  1,541 ratings  ·  96 reviews
Returning to his hotel room after a late-night flirtation with a cabaret dancer at an Istanbul bite, Graham is surprised by an intruder with a gun. What follows is a nightmare of intrigue for the English armaments engineer as he makes his way home aboard an Italian freighter. Among the passengers are a couple of Nazi assassins intent on preventing his returning to England ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published December 3rd 2002 by Vintage (first published 1940)
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Bill  Kerwin

In this novel set in the months before World War II, Eric Ambler uses his typical hero—a novice inadevertently caught up in the world of international intrigue—to explore the reality of fear: how it affects perceptions, alters attitudes, and undermines the will, and yet how--if embraced and acknowledged--it may lead an ordinary man to perform an extraordinary action.

Our ordinary man is Howard Graham, an English engineer from a British firm who has been assigned to a munitions project for the Tur
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AC
All ratings relative to the genre, of course.

3.5 stars.

Ambler wrote a series of novels from 1936-1940, then stopped for 12 years, returning to fiction in 1952. This is the last of the early works. Though these early works are considered "Classics", I found this book a shade immature in its technique, compared (at least) to Passage of Arms, which is truly brilliant. The lead character, Graham, is foolish (in a very British way), and so not wholly believable. Because of this, the plot (which hinge
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Daniel
As I hardly recall this book, I decided to flip through it before writing a short review. In short order, I found a few passages that capture some of the reasons why I enjoy reading Eric Ambler.

From page 7 (in the mass-market edition that I have):

Over dinner at the Pera Palace Hotel, Kopeikin gave war news. For him, the Soviets were still "the July assassins" of Nicholas the Second, and Graham heard much of Finnish victories and Russian defeats. The Germans had sunk more British ships and lost m
...more
Laura
From BBC Radio 4:
Unassuming engineer Mr Graham runs for his life across war-torn Europe. Classic 1940s thriller read by Richard Greenwood.


I also read the printed version of this book by my rating didn't change.
Patrick
I picked this one up from the library because I’d read the name somewhere and heard good things about it, and I’m glad I did. It’s an extremely enjoyable genre piece, full of strong writing that’s breezy and fun, but also atmospheric and even gently philosophical. Eric Ambler was a very well regarded author of thrillers and spy novels, and it’s interesting that while he seems to have slipped quietly out of the mass market readership he has been adopted and reprinted by Penguin Modern Classics in ...more
Al
I liked A Coffin for Demetrios, and wanted to read more Eric Ambler. All our library system seemed to have was one of those four-in-one volumes of Mr. Ambler's work, of which the first was Journey Into Fear. Having just finished that, I'm glad there are three more (well, really only two, because ACfD is also in this volume and, although I liked it a lot, I'm not ready to read it again.)
It's well known I like thirties and WW II espionage stories, and Mr. Ambler does them so well. In this case,
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Ed
Nov 01, 2009 Ed rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: espionage and historical fiction fans
I wanted to like this book more than I did. I had never read an Ambler story. To many people he is the inventor of the literate espionage/spy novel.

Unfortunately, compared with Furst, Greene and LeCarre, this effort comes across as amateurish. The story is a simple one, taking place in 1940 before the German invasion of France.

In this case, a naive English armaments engineer, Mr. Graham, becomes the target of German agents who do not want his work for the Turkish government completed. After an
...more
Tom
Cracking story, well told with extremely believable characters. I loved it.
David B
Graham, a British engineer who specializes in munitions, becomes the target of German spies as he travels from Turkey to England in the months preceding WWII. He takes passage on a small boat, where many of his fellow passengers will reveal surprises about themselves and he will encounter both friends and foes in unexpected places.

Eric Ambler's prose is efficient and graceful as he moves his plot along smoothly. His characters are delineated well, their interactions are well-focused, and the twi
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Steve Greenleaf
Between 1936 and 1940, Eric Ambler published six thrillers that changed the genre. After John Buchan’s The 39 Steps, the genre had become stale. Ambler came along and introduced clean, efficient prose, appropriately paced plots, and the theme of the common man pulled into the treacherous world of Europe in the shadow of war. Journey into Fear (1940) is one of these six novels.

Graham is a British engineer on assignment in Turkey helping with Turkish armaments. At a nightclub, a lady of the house
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Varun
Journey Into Fear is the second Eric Ambler book I have read in a month's time and I enjoyed the book even though it was not on the same level as that of Cause For Alarm.

The problem is that the the femme fatale track is meandering and pointless and during the middle section of the book,nothing much seems to be happening and it seems as if the author has run out of ideas and is just filling random words out to fill up the word limit .But then the story becomes more and more intriguing and nice li
...more
Jlnpeacock
In 1940 an English engineer is in Turkey working on an arms deal. He is not particularly bothered about the war raging about him. it simply doesn't effect him. He carries on his work and minds his business until this trip to Turkey when the German spies decide they must eliminate him in order to delay Turkey's upgrade in arms. It was fascinating to read about the day to day lives of the 'masses' and how the war impacted their lives. The story was interesting, and I would have enjoyed it more had ...more
Jayde
3.5 Stars.

The plot is good, the writing is good and the characters are all quite interesting, if a tad flat at times.

The problem I had was getting in to it. For the first six or seven chapters it's mostly the protagonists journey home, with some flashbacks regarding why he ended up on that particular journey. It actually took me four days to get through those, I just kept putting the book down. When the action does kick in, about halfway through (although the book is only 210 pages long), it is
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Qt
An easy-for-me-to-follow spy novel that moves along at a good clip; quite enjoyable!
Doug Howgate
One of my favorites. Great movie too.
TinHouseBooks
Lance Cleland (Murder Mystery Dinner Detective): An ordinary man who found himself embroiled in extraordinary circumstances. This is all I want said of my life. As such, I find myself constantly dipping back into the pool of spy novels I loved as a young reader. The first leisurely sunny day spent at the park will always find me with a paperback in hand, chasing German submarines, double-crossing the voluptuous, and trying like hell not to get my drink spiked in an underground Prague bar.

Eric Am
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J
MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.

Ambler write a lot about travel to exotic locations such as Turkey and the zone of eastern Europe/western Asia. Elegant writing style.

Fun to watch a mild, well-mannered British engineer -- who works for an armaments co. early during World War II -- learn he has the mettle to improvise his way out of a spy trap, even to shoot an enemy in the face at point-blank range in order to escape, during a business trip that takes him to Turkey, Italy, and other places.

A lot of the acti
...more
Nikki
Journey into Fear is a classic novel of international intrigue set during the early months of World War II. It's my favorite type of "spy story," in which an ordinary man (or sometimes woman) gets caught up in unexpected events and discovers strengths he didn't know he had. Helen MacInnes excelled at this sort of thing, and more recently, some of Alan Furst's novels fit the same profile.

The story opens with a description of protagonist Graham's rather dull but pleasant life. He is an ordnance en
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Premal Vora
This book's story unforlds in the midst of WWII. The protagonist, Graham, is headed from Istanbul to London after completing a business trip. On the night before his departure he is shot at in his hotel room by an unknown assassin. While Graham himself is not clear why anyone should want him dead, his colleagues in Istanbul are. Thus begins a cloak and dagger chase to try to assassin Graham while his colleagues ensure he stays very much alive.

I related very much to Graham because he appears to b
...more
Curtiss
This is the story of a naval ordinance engineer abroad in Turkey during the early days of WWII who is targeted for assassination so as to delay the rearming of Turkish naval vessels. The Turkish secret police slip him aboard a tramp steamer for safety, only he learns that not all of his fellow passengers are whom the seem and he is in even greater jeopardy than ever. A good suspense thriller in which the hero's reactions are not those of a trained agent, but rather those to be expected from a ma ...more
Laura
This is an enjoyable and quick WWII thriller with a likeable protagonist, European locations, and a fun, fast moving plot. There are two things that made this, for me, better than expected: first, there was a great introduction by historian Norman Stone, which gave the story, and Ambler, quite a bit of interesting context. Second, the majority of the book takes place on a ship that is traveling from Istanbul to Genoa, Italy, and I do love books that are confined to boats, trains, or planes. Ther ...more
Dianne
As a Fan of Eric Ambler I was delighted to see this re-issue in the Penguin Modern Classics series. I must have last read it about 15 years ago, but it was immediately familiar, and I soon realised that it was filmed in 1942 and is a staple of afternoon TV viewing.

Everything about it is right. Graham, a mild middle class engineer in sent to Turkey to help update their navy. He becomes embroiled in a situation of attempted murder, suspicion and espionage. He is no hero, remaining out of his dept
...more
Jarvo
Initially underwhelmed - prose is a bit flat - but the book tightened its grip like a tourniquet. V reminiscent of Hitchcock's 'wrong man' thrillers, where an ordinary person gets caught up in events beyond their control and also a clear influence on the writers of spy novels from Fleming to Le Carre. Beneath the sophisticated and polyglot veneer there are a clear range of oh so English prejudices, but, what the heck, you never stop wanting to know what happens next.
Matt
This was a really satisfying little spy thriller, as we see everyman munitions engineer Graham face off against a German assassination plot on a Turkish barge. Good stuff, funny and witty and deploying lots of characters with a lot to say-- not just Haller, whose potted lectures are funny and strange, but also Mr Mathis. It makes you consider that there are all kinds of reasons someone like Ambler might write a book like this one, and they aren't all simple or plot-directed.

I never did quite get
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Andrea
Once again not really a review, just random thoughts.
I love the locations and the characters in Eric Ambler books, good writing ages well and so many things here are amazing for being written in 1940. Definitely some communist sympathy going on here! maybe a few years later that wouldn't have been acceptable. Ambler continued on to Hollywood and ended up marrying Hitchcock's secretary, and of course Journey into Fear reads like the film it would become. Josette is a first-class Femme Fatale and
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Peter N.
My heart was racing throughout and fortunately it wasn't clinical arrythmia.

This is the prototype innocent-finds-himself-unwittingly-at center-of-espionage-with everyone trying to either kill him, save him, or just figure him out. Plenty of surprises and unexpected twists and turns; highly recommended.
Terry Plum
Classic Ambler. British ingenue amid Turkish/Greek/Bulgarian/Italian/German confusion at the beginning of WW II. A little flurry of unconvincing violence at the end, and it is all sorted out. Fun to read about people who shift their conversation into different languages.
Neer
A man travels on a steamer along with a man who wants to murder him even as war clouds gather over Europe.

More here:

http://inkquilletc.blogspot.in/2014/0...
Josh
Loved this. Feels very modern--even the sex--while evoking a particular time and place. Amazing how Ambler worked in plot details so naturally. Should be studied by all thriller writers.
Simon Van Rensler
Too much is given away at the beginning. We know very soon who is after the hero and why. If he had left the why until the end it would have been more suspenseful.
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Eric Ambler began his writing career in the early 1930s, and quickly established a reputation as a thriller writer of extraordinary depth and originality. He is often credited as the inventor of the modern political thriller and John Le Carre once described him as 'the source on which we all draw.'

Ambler began his working life at an engineering firm, then as a copywriter at an advertising agency,
...more
More about Eric Ambler...
A Coffin for Dimitrios Epitaph for a Spy Cause for Alarm The Light of Day Background to Danger

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“We can learn only in the expectation of life. Europe is too preoccupied with its destruction to concern itself with such things. A condemned man is interested only in himself, the passage of hours and such intimations of immortality as he can conjure from the recesses of his mind.” 0 likes
“He says that it was people who were safe and well fed who invented good and evil so that they would not have to worry about the people who were hungry and unsafe. What a man does depends on what he needs. It is simple. You are not a murderer. You say that murder is evil. José would say that you are as much a murderer as Landru or Weidmann and that it is just that fortune has not made it necessary for you to murder anyone. Someone once told him that there was a German proverb which said that a man is an ape in velvet. He always likes to repeat it.” 0 likes
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