4.5 stars. "The One Man" is an intense historical thriller set during World War II as the Americans race to beat the Nazis in building the ultimate we4.5 stars. "The One Man" is an intense historical thriller set during World War II as the Americans race to beat the Nazis in building the ultimate weapon. Professor Alfred Mendl, a Polish Jewish physicist behind barbed wire in Auschwitz, possesses the knowledge needed to separate the uranium isotopes used in an atomic bomb.
Nathan Blum is experiencing survivor's guilt since he was the only member of his family to escape from Poland. He's working in the United States as a Polish translator for the OSS, but he wants to do more to help the Jewish cause. He's asked to go on a dangerous mission to infiltrate Auschwitz, and bring Professor Mendl out with the help of Polish partisans.
The book has a riveting plot with an interesting--and tragic--historical background. The main characters were complex people faced with the challenges of staying alive at the concentration camp. Heroic people risked their lives to crush the Nazis. I found I could not read this suspenseful book close to bedtime since it seemed so real to me that I couldn't fall asleep. "The One Man" is recommended to readers who enjoy thrillers with good characterization....more
Eric Ambler has chosen "an everyman" to be the protagonist of this suspenseful novel. Graham is a nice, quiet, intelligent armaments engineer from norEric Ambler has chosen "an everyman" to be the protagonist of this suspenseful novel. Graham is a nice, quiet, intelligent armaments engineer from northern England who has just finished a long business trip advising the Turkish navy. He goes back to his hotel room in Istanbul and is surprised by a man who shoots several times before disappearing out the window. Fortunately, he is not seriously hurt. Graham thinks the intruder might be a thief, but Turkish intelligence tells him that the Nazis are trying to kill him. It's just at the start of World War II, and the Germans do not want Graham to bring the classified armaments information that he has memorized back to his English employer. His travel plans back to England are changed, and he sets off on an Italian freighter. A small group of international passengers is on the boat. During the voyage, we are in Graham's mind as he tries to determine who he can trust. The tension and fear increase as the voyage continues, and the true identities of the passengers are revealed. Graham's fear intensifies as he is put in a no-win situation where his survival hangs by a thread.
One of the passengers on the boat is a leftist Frenchman who thought that wars were created by international bankers and armaments manufacturers who would profit from the conflicts. Ambler was known for his leftist views, especially in his early works prior to World War II. Another passenger is a Serbian nightclub dancer who remembers the atrocities of World War I and will not associate with the Turkish passenger. A French couple will not sit at the same table as a German archeologist as a political statement. Although the book is mainly an entertaining international psychological thriller, it is interesting to read the political messages too. When the book was published in 1940, at the advent of World War II, the author did not know exactly which countries would be allies, or the outcome of the war.
Eric Ambler is known to have been an influence on authors Graham Greene and John LeCarre, as well as filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock.
Thanks to my GR friend Judy for suggesting this book....more
The Lost Concerto combines suspense, romance, and international political intrigue with a musical thread running through the story. Sofia and her sonThe Lost Concerto combines suspense, romance, and international political intrigue with a musical thread running through the story. Sofia and her son flee from her husband to a convent off the coast of France, but a hired killer follows her. American Maggie O'Shea is grieving the death of her husband, an investigative reporter. She's in a dark place and has given up her career as a classical pianist. A CIA agent brings Maggie a CD and a recent photograph of her first love, a pianist that went missing after an explosion in Beirut thirty years ago. He asks her to come to France to help find Sofia's son and Maggie's first love. As the story unfolds, Maggie finds that Sofia's husband is a wealthy, dangerous man who is much more than a collector of art and rare musical manuscripts.
The wonderful French setting and the musical thread separate this book from a run of the mill mystery. There were a few times when I wondered how the intelligent, independent Maggie could be so reckless, putting both herself and a charming Colonel in terrible danger. At other points in the book, I admired her courage. The book had interesting characters the reader could care about, including the Colonel's three legged dog that had been injured in the Mideast. The story had themes of courage, grief, revenge, coping with disabilities, and the power of music....more