Nicky Marlow needs a job He s engaged to be married and the employment market in Britain in 1937 is pretty slim So when his fiance points out the position with an English armaments manufacturer in Italy, he jumps at the chance Soon after he arrives, however, he learns the sinister truth about his predecessor s departure and finds himself courted by two agents with dangerously different agendas In the process, Marlow realizes that it s not so simple just to do the job he s paid for not in fascist Italy, on the eve of a world war....
|Title||:||Cause for Alarm (Penguin Modern Classics)|
|Format Type||:||Kindle Edition|
|Publisher||:||Penguin 28 Mai 2009|
|Number of Pages||:||105 Pages|
|File Size||:||864 KB|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Cause for Alarm (Penguin Modern Classics) Reviews
To read or not to read the great spy novels of Eric Ambler? That is the question most people ignore because they are not familiar with Mr. Ambler and his particularly talent.Mr. Ambler has always had this problem. As Alfred Hitchcock noted in his introduction to Intrigue (an omnibus volume containing Journey into Fear, A Coffin for Dimitrios, Cause for Alarm and Background to Danger), "Perhaps this was the volume that brought Mr. Ambler to the attention of the public that make best-sellers. They had been singularly inattentive until its appearance -- I suppose only God knows why." He goes on to say, "They had not even heeded the critics, who had said, from the very first, that Mr. Ambler had given new life and fresh viewpoint to the art of the spy novel -- an art supposedly threadbare and certainly cliché-infested."So what's new and different about Eric Ambler writing? His heroes are ordinary people with whom almost any reader can identify, which puts you in the middle of a turmoil of emotions. His bad guys are characteristic of those who did the type of dirty deeds described in the book. His angels on the sidelines are equally realistic to the historical context. The backgrounds, histories and plot lines are finely nuanced into the actual evolution of the areas and events described during that time. In a way, these books are like historical fiction, except they describe deceit and betrayal rather than love and affection. From a distance of over 60 years, we read these books today as a way to step back into the darkest days of the past and relive them vividly. You can almost see and feel a dark hand raised to strike you in the back as you read one of his book's later pages. In a way, these stories are like a more realistic version of what Dashiell Hammett wrote as applied to European espionage.Since Mr. Ambler wrote, the thrillers have gotten much bigger in scope . . . and moved beyond reality. Usually, the future of the human race is at stake. The heroes make Superman look like a wimp in terms of their prowess and knowledge. There's usually a love interest who exceeds your vision of the ideal woman. Fast-paced violence and killing dominate most pages. There are lots of toys to describe and use in imaginative ways. The villains combine the worst faults of the 45 most undesirable people in world history and have gained enormous wealth and power while being totally crazy. The plot twists and turns like cruise missile every few seconds in unexpected directions. If you want a book like that, please do not read Mr. Ambler's work. You won't like it.If you want to taste, touch, smell, see and hear evil from close range and move through fear to defeat it, Mr. Ambler's your man.On to Cause for Alarm. The book begins powerfully with a prologue, Death in Milan. A man is waiting to follow an Englishman in the cold. The Englishman appears and crosses the street. A large limousine accelerates violently into him, running him over. The man next to the driver sees that the Englishman is still alive, and directs the driver to "Go back and make certain." They run over the Englishman again. This time, he dies.English production engineer, Nicky Marlow has just gotten engaged, and almost as quickly loses his job when the Barton Heath works have to be closed when a key customer is lost. Jobs are scarce during the Depression, yet he turns down a chance to take a four year contract in Bolivia for small pay. Finally, he applies for and obtains a one-year assignment in Milan which will mean being away from his fiancee, who has encouraged him to be sensible. They can get married later.The job means supplying equipment needed to make munitions, and Germany and Italy are now allies. So Marlow is put in the touchy position of helping make arms that may be used later against his countrymen. He closes his eyes to that problem and begins doing his new job, replacing a predecessor who was unexpectedly killed in an automobile accident. Soon, strange characters begin courting his favors and offering him tempting deals. One of them even encourages him to play along with another of the characters. It seems that Marlow has unexpectedly put himself right in the middle of Britain's enemies as they spy on one another. Everyone needs him to do their bidding, and few care whether he survives or not. The Fascists even grab his passport to make him more vulnerable. Totally unprepared, he begins to pursue a dangerous double-timing game.One of the reasons why I am so fond of this book (which I have read several times) is that it points out that when we ignore the morality of our business activities there will be a price to be paid. Another interesting moral question is what the right thing to do is when we are faced with the possibility of reducing risk to others by increasing the risk to ourselves. When are we obligated to do so?The colorful figures of Zaleshoff and General Vagas make the story ever so much spicier. Neither are people with whom Marlow would have associated in England, yet the two are key to his making progress in Milan.The book's structure is written like three novellas. The first details the situation in which Marlowe finds himself. The second involves his engagement in the espionage. The third relates his attempt to escape. You will feel like a person being sucked by the undertow out to sea as you progress from one novella to the next . . . as increasing fear and heaviness grip you.After you finish, think about some place in your life where your work causes or could cause harm to others. How can you overcome that current or potential harm?
Although Ambler is a skillful writer, this book is very dated. Set in the late 1930s, it posits Italy as unsure of whether it would ally with Germany or the Anglo-French alliance. The protagonist is sent from a firm in England to manage its corrupt Italian office, where he discovers the corruption, gets by through English pluck and solid virtues, good luck, and the help of a mysterious American. The pace is slow, the characters are well developed but naive in hindsight, and the enemies are bumblers. The good things done by the hero are of global strategic importance according to the story, but are hardly believable or realistic in view of what we know now about Hitler and Mussolini.
I enjoyed the first part of this book, wherein the protagonist Marlow gets involved -- reluctantly -- in intrigue in pre-war Italy. There was definite, palpable suspense as Marlow begins to attract the attention of a bunch of characters who may or may not be good guys in the Europe that is slowly drifting toward horrendous war. But at one point, a long and very improbable escape/chase scene takes place which, for me, destroyed the flow and rhythm of the book. It's as if the author wanted to eat up a lot of pages just so he could get to where he could wrap things up. Without that chase/escape scene, the book could have been a third shorter, and probably would have been a better book. I've read two other Ambler books and despite proper respect for his contribution to the genre, I don't think I'll read any others. Give me Furst, Deighton or other modern day espionage writers.
I've been working my way through this series of espionage books and have enjoyed them. In this one, however, Ambler's "innocent bystander," an engineer named Marlow, is clueless about everything. And I mean everything. Perhaps this was meant to symbolize English attitudes in the years before WWII. Or perhaps it reflects Ambler's view of engineers generally. Or perhaps it was an attempt to paint the armament industry as heedless of political influences. In any event, the growing war threat doesn't seem to have reached him, something made even more puzzling by the fact that he takes a position with an armaments company's Italian office. Marlow's persona is drawn in sharp contrast to other characters, who are dedicated to causes and full of initiative. Poor Marlow is manipulated and becomes dependent on the skill of a Soviet agent.It's worth a read but lacks the appeal of others in the series.
Not Ambler's best although it was enlightening to read about pre-war Fascist Italy, The story went well until about the final part when I got the feeling that the plot was stretched to make it longer or more exciting, Oh well, they can't all be great.
This was a good story best at the beginning. The adventure crossing the mountains was a bit long but the writing was good. I enjuyed it less than A Coffin for Demetrius which i really liked.