Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Third Man” as Want to Read:
The Third Man
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Third Man

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  10,815 ratings  ·  627 reviews
Rollo Martins' usual line is the writing of cheap paperback Westerns under the name of Buck Dexter. But when his old friend Harry Lime invites him to Vienna, he jumps at the chance. With exactly five pounds in his pocket, he arrives only just in time to make it to his friend's funeral. The victim of an apparently banal street accident, the late Mr. Lime, it seems, had been ...more
Paperback, 118 pages
Published 1950 by Bantam (first published 1949)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Third Man, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Clyda Mcdevitt
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,815 ratings  ·  627 reviews

More filters
Sort order

Rollo Martins, incurable ladies’ man and author of trashy novels set on The Wild West, accepts an invitation from his best friend Harry Lime and arrives in Vienna just in time to attend his funeral. But what’s really happened ? Seemingly accident, but testimony from eyewitnesses and Harry’s new friends are, to tell the truth, not credible. So Rollo, like a noble sheriff from his own stories, decides to solve the mystery. Well, easier said than done. With empty pockets, friendless in strange city
Ahmad Sharabiani
535. The Third Man, Graham Greene (1904 - 1991)
The film takes place in post–World War II Vienna. It centres on Holly Martins, an American who is given a job in Vienna by his friend Harry Lime, but when Holly arrives in Vienna he gets the news that Lime is dead. Martins then meets with Lime's acquaintances in an attempt to investigate what he considers a suspicious death. ....
مرد سوم - گراهام گرین (برگ / نی) ادبیات؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: هشتم ماه دسامبر سال 1999 میلادی
عنوان: مرد سوم: اثر: گراهام گر
David Schaafsma
Graham Greene to my mind somewhat stuffily separated his narrative books for much of his career into two categories—fiction and “entertainments”—such as this noir novel, The Third Man. The book was written (or at least published) after the screenplay he produced for the film by the same name (1949, directed by Carol Reed, featuring Joseph Cotton and Orson Welles). I saw the film decades ago, and since I was reading all these mysteries and detective fiction, and because I had just reread two of h ...more

Description: Rollo Martins' usual line is the writing of cheap paperback Westerns under the name of Buck Dexter. But when his old friend Harry Lime invites him to Vienna, he jumps at the chance. With exactly five pounds in his pocket, he arrives only just in time to make it to his friend's funeral. The victim of an apparently banal street accident, the late Mr. Lime, it seems, had been the focus of a criminal investigation, suspected of nothing less than b
Nov 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A breathless read.

Set in Vienna at the end of World War II, the reader is immediately struck off balance by a turbulent, blighted world. Gone is the gracious city of old-world coffee houses. Every street is in ruins, the scars of war blanketed by snow. Side by side on the same block are lovely old apartment houses and blackened craters. Shops flourish at street level, the floors above them bombed out of existence. To add to the sense of displacement, the city is divided into four zones ruled by
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Jan 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
[9/10] this was a bit too short and I thought the movie format suited the story better. I am not implying the novella is not worth checking out. Graham Greene is a deft hand at conveying emotion with elegance and an economy of words that hint at a lot of passion behind the stiff upper lip British attitude.

Vienna in the immediate aftermath of World War II is a desolate place, scoured by chill winds, with mountains of rubble barely hidden under the snow, tensions between the occupying powers and a
Jason Koivu
Jun 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
I could never remember if I'd only just seen the movie version or if I'd actually read this back in the mid-90s during my Greene period. So, I went ahead and read it now just to make sure. Glad I did! It's a tightly-wound head scratcher. Not diabolically difficult to unravel what's going on, but still a satisfying read with plenty of colorful characters and a wonderful setting.
Feb 02, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of the movie
Recommended to Mark by: the movie
Shelves: 2015, adventure, wwii
This book is a re-issue of the 1950 in Dutch translated edition, re-issued in the series of the Tomas Ross crime classics. Tomas Ross being the best living thriller writer in the Netherlands these days.

The book starts with a message by the writer in which he explains that the story was never meant as a book but was written as a treatment for a movie, and that any difference in story is due to the fact that the story of movie was changed by the director at a later date.

So why read the book, that
Joseph Sciuto
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Graham Greene's, "The Third Man" is a wonderful mystery (thriller) set in post war Vienna with the legendary character of Harry Lime; a notorious racketeer selling poisoned penicillin to children's hospitals and doctors, at exorbitant prices, resulting in the death and disabling of innocent victims.

Mr. Graham originally wrote this as a screenplay which was made into the legendary movie "The Third Man" starring the great Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton. He later wrote the book, which is slightly d
I have tried to watch The Third Man more times than I care to remember. Tried and failed. I know it is considered a classic but the only effect it ever had on me was to put me to sleep.

As part of my self-imposed Greene-land challenge, this is one of the two books that I have looked forward to least. The other, btw, is Greene's other cinematic "classic" Brighton Rock.

So, there I was starting The Third Man having made a huge pot of coffee in full expectation that slumber would befall me at anytime
I read this book for two reasons. It was part of a challenge...a book set in Austria. I also read and loved another book by this author. As far as the Austria part, I felt this book gave only a limited description and not of the part of Austria I think of. And....I didn't like this nearly as much as The End of the Affair. I've never seen this movie. Some people think this is written as a screenplay for that. Either way, it was just ok for me. I did like Rollo Martins and I wanted to find out wha ...more
Daniel Villines
To start, I am not a big fan of mystery novels and The Third Man is just that. Mystery novels usually create a feeling of being pulled through the plot, allowing me to look at only the things that promote the mystery, and finally leading me to a predestined conclusion. I much prefer novels where a world is created wherein human nature and chance drive the plot towards an ending that is as mysterious as life itself.

Then there is Greene’s writing. Greene at his best can hold a human soul in his ha
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the Third Man, Graham Greene uses an interesting narrative style. It is told in first person – from the point of view of Inspector Calloway while he spies on Rollo Martins, a writer of American pulp westerns who has arrived in Vienna at the behest of a man named Harry Lime. But Inspector Calloway mostly takes a back seat and narrates how the lecherous but clever Rollo Martins solves the case of Harry Lime’s mysterious death in a car accident. Rollo Martins is the main character while Calloway ...more
Jose Moa
Nov 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-suspense
Located in Vienna in the post second world war,is a noir novel that describes well the sensations of a sad,dark,gloomy ,claustrophobic destroyed Vienna by the war in a crude winter;divided in four pieces by the winner nations, also one sees the beginings of the cold war.Arround a mortal smuggling of penicilina,the book pose the choose between the idealiced frienship and the good of the comunity,centered in the protagonist Rollo Martin.As a curiosity it has a fun chapter with a literarian discuss ...more
Andrew Smith
I know it's an old story but it does feel dated... and abridged (though it isn't)... and really written for the screen (which it is). Disappointing.
Suzan (Suus Leest)
From my blog

In 1948 the film The Third Man premiered. The director Carol Reed had asked Graham Greene to write the screenplay, and he agreed to do so. He quickly found out he could not write a film without first writing a novel. Although the concept (thus the book) was never meant to be published, it later was. This should be kept in mind when reviewing this novel. Greene knew he would be able to edit it when turning it into a script and thus may not have foc
This is a short Graham Greene book - novella if you will.

It is a fast moving story, it doesn't hang about setting the scene, or going into in-depth descriptions, it just gets on with the mystery.

The way the story is told is interesting. The story is told as the recollections of Calloway, the English Colonel running the police in the British quarter of Vienna, post WWII. He explains the story of Rollo Martins, a novelist and friend of a British man living in Vienna, Harry Lime. Martins turns up i
I've loved some of Greene's other books but am rather lukewarm on this one.

This was actually written as a pre-writing exercise for a commissioned screenplay for a proposed movie. Greene apparently was having trouble writing a screenplay from scratch and decided to write a novella from scratch then base his screenplay off of that. The novella wasn't originally intended to be published.

That tidbit of history is probably why it's more action focused and less character focused than his other books.
Sam Bissell
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have seen THE THIRD MAN as a movie several times in my life and, to be clear, about 2 dozen times. So, I was finally drawn to read this quick little story and, in reading it, I could apply all of the characters with voices I am familiar with. The story follows the movements of Rollo Martens, a dime western writer during the immediate time period right after WW II in Vienna, Austria, while the story is actually written by a British police inspector who is following Rollo's movements while he tr ...more
Nov 18, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books, mystery
A species of spy/amateur hard boiled detective noir novelette. A writer of cheap westerns is called to post war Vienna by an old school friend. Vienna is no longer the graceful city it was or will in part become again; at the moment it's dark, cold and hungry. It's also divided up into 4 sections ruled over by four different winning countries from World War II - France, America, Great Britain and Russia.

The first three countries all get on fairly well but relations with the Russian section are
Mary Ronan Drew
Oct 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a splendid book. I re-read it after some 40 years because I had borrowed the movie from the library and I wanted to refresh my memory. Why had I not noticed before that the book came AFTER the movie? Or rather during the movie. When Graham Greene was asked to do the screenplay he felt he needed to write the novel to get things clear in his mind. He has explained all that in his comments about the book.

Both the book and the movie are deeply atmospheric. At first it reminded me of the episod
Neil R. Coulter
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of the film
Shelves: fiction
"There are always so many things one doesn't know about a person, even a person one loves—good things, bad things. We have to leave plenty of room for them." (114)
Though most people will read Graham Greene's The Third Man primarily to learn more about the film, it's a good, short read on its own, touching on themes of identity, trust, and faith—all of which exist in great conflict in the rubble of post-war Vienna. Greene has a perfect noir writing style that suits the story and matches the film'
Mar 09, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cold War historical fiction; Graham Greene fans
Recommended to Terence by: the movie
"The Third Man" is one of my favorite movies and Greene's novelization of his and Carol Reed's script does a pretty good job of transferring it to print.

Of interest in this edition is Greene's introduction, where the reader learns, among other things, that the famous "cuckoo clock" line was Orson Welles' invention, and that Reed insisted on the film's ending rather than what Greene originally wrote (a decision that, in retrospect, Greene endorsed).

As Greene admits, the book is an outgrowth of th
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

I feel like giving this the two stars may be too generous because I'm still not sure of what I've just read.
Please stop novelising scripts. It just doesn't work.
Jul 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
I liked this novella better than the movie which is silly because Graham Greene reportedly wrote this as practice for the screenplay.
Gary Letham
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rollo Martins is a writer, a writer of Western pulp fiction, has a huge fan base but very little income to show for it. Rollo is contacted by an old school friend, Harry Lime, who asks him to travel to post war Vienna for an opportunity. Martins a luckless romantic jumps at the chance to put yet another failure in love far behind him and goes to Vienna. On arrival at Lime's apartment, he is informed by the neighbour Harry was killed in a car accident outside the building and is being buried toda ...more
What a bore.

The film is so much better.

1. Why is there switching narration between first person and third person? It is so unnecessary.
2. Why is the first person narration a side character? It makes no sense to me whatsoever.
3. What sort of a name is Rollo?

Only good thing was the sound effects for the audio book and the narration.
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great thriller, fascinating point of view. Now I need to see the movie, right?
American western writer Rollo Martins arrives in Post-World War II Vienna at the request of his childhood friend, Harry Lime. Lime has a job for him but when Martins arrives, he soon finds out that his friend has died. Convinced that Harry Lime’s death was no accident, Martins starts his own investigation, which leads him on a hunt to find the other witness, The Third Man.

If you are a loyal listener of The Readers or follow Simon Savidge’s blog or twitter you may know he recently lost his grandm
Oct 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A few nights ago a man who sat next to me at a dinner party said he’d always wanted to write fiction—as I do—and that he’d like to collaborate with me on a novel of international espionage.

He was an Israeli by birth, spoke accented English, but has a PhD from a good American university and a long list of non-fiction publications in his special field, which is the Middle East.

I said, “What is your idea of an excellent book—something you’d like to have written yourself?” His reply, without hesitat
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • A Coffin for Dimitrios (Charles Latimer, #1)
  • Game, Set, Match, (Bernard Samson, #1-3)
  • Two Lives and a Dream
  • The Beast Must Die (Nigel Strangeways, #4)
  • Malice Aforethought
  • Laura
  • The Labyrinth Makers (Dr David Audley & Colonel Jack Butler #1)
  • The Madman of Bergerac (Maigret, #16)
  • Smallbone Deceased (Inspector Hazlerigg, #4)
  • Eine blaßblaue Frauenschrift
  • Rogue Male (Rogue Male, #1)
  • Wellen
  • The Great Impersonation
  • The Four Just Men  (The Four Just Men #1)
  • The Rose of Tibet
  • Phantom Lady
  • The Riddle of the Sands
  • Dirty Tricks
See similar books…
Henry Graham Greene, OM, CH was an English novelist, short story writer, playwright, screenplay writer, travel writer and critic whose works explore the ambivalent moral and political issues of the modern world. Greene combined serious literary acclaim with wide popularity.

Although Greene objected strongly to being described as a “Catholic novelist” rather than as a “novelist who happened to be Ca
“You know what the fellow said – in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” 941 likes
“We never get accustomed to being less important to other people than they are to us.” 42 likes
More quotes…