For my money, Eric Ambler was one of best practitioners of the classic British spy thriller. Intelligent, droll and brisk, his prose rewards readers looking for a literary escape. Anyway, found this interesting essay by Sarah Weinman on Ambler’s classic A Coffin for Dimitrios over at the Wall Street Journal:
Though Ambler’s style sometimes veered more into comedy (his 1962 “The Light of Day” became the basis of Jules Dassin’s classic caper film “Topkapi” two years later) and he stayed neutral on the Cold War, he remained true to the style of spy fiction that made him famous, influencing the likes of Ian Fleming, John Le Carré and Len Deighton. More than any of his other novels, “A Coffin For Dimitrios” stands out as a classic example of what Ambler termed “the ape beneath the velvet”—the furious, pulsating violence beating beneath a smooth and placid façade.
For the rest of the essay, follow this link. (art by Ryan Inzana)