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Summary The Mask of Dimitrios

Read & Download È The Mask of Dimitrios ó PDF, eBook or Kindle ePUB ☆ English crime novelist Charles Latimer is travelling in Istanbul when he makes the acuaintance of police inspector Colonel Haki It is from him that he first hears of the mysterious Dimitrios an infamous master criminal long wanted by K But as he gradually discovers about his subject's shadowy history fascination tips over into obsession And in entering Dimitrios's criminal underworld Latimer realizes that his own life may be on the lin. “In a dying civilization political prestige is the reward not of the shrewdest diagnostician but of the man with the best bedside manner It is the decoration conferred on mediocrity by ignorance”If you like your crime fiction a bit different from the eternal parlour games staged by writers like Agatha Christie try reading The Mask of Dimitrios by Eric Ambler and you will experience a virtuoso mixture of a novel of detection and a portrait of Europe in the first half of the 19th century a time that was particularly marked by violence and ruthlessness Ambler makes us share the dangerous obsession of Charles Latimer a rather blasé and priggish university professor turned parsonage mystery writer that consists in finding out about a mysterious criminal named Dimitrios Makropoulos whose corpse has been found in the Bosphorus What starts as a mere whim of fancy apparently soon turns out to be a descent into the deepest nightmarish knowledge on human nature because the rather narrow minded writer not only has to team up with a most insalubrious individual who calls himself Peters but he also has to realize that there exists a sort of evil that makes the villains in his novels look like pale imitations of life And what’s while prying deeper and deeper into the grim past of that unscrupulous and determined man Dimitrios Latimer not only risks his own life but he too will eventually resort to means that may go against the law or are at least uestionable from the point of view he has up to now taken in lifeI have known the movie starring Peter Lorre as Latimer although on screen the English writer is made into a Dutchman called Leyden and Sydney Greenstreet as the heavyset but prolix Mr Peters for ages but only recently read the novel and I must say that although the film is unforgettable – mainly due to Sydney Greenstreet’s way of creating his larger than life character – it is definitely surpassed by the novel and I can think of two reasons for saying this First of all Peter Lorre has always instilled some kind of sleazy half crazy shadiness into his characters but the Charles Latimer described by Ambler is uite a different person He has spent most of his life at English universities which must definitely have been uite different from the places he visits and the persons he meets during his uest for knowledge about Dimitrios the same as Great Britain for all its problems after World War I must have been paradise compared to the Balkans and many other regions in Europe after the Great War It is one of the fascinating traits of this novel to see how a person like Latimer is wading deeper and deeper into the mire of crookedness and cynicism and how he reacts to his awareness of this changeSecond it is simply marvellous to see how Ambler on the eve of the next World War gave an account of European politics and the struggle for power that set nations against each other When he wrote that novel he had never visited the Balkans himself but only listened to the stories of Greek Russian and other refugees as he sat in Turkish cafés in Nice but still he manages to create an impression of writing from first hand experience and his characters are overwhelmingly believable especially in their vices and the darker recesses of their souls While we follow Latimer through the half of Europe we also learn what the new times are all about – how disturbing this realization must have been for contemporary readers even though in principle not much has changed in our day and age – when the narrator states from Latimer’s perspective”But it was useless to explain him ie Dimitrios in terms of Good and Evil They were no than baroue abstractions Good Business and Bad Business were the elements of the new theology Dimitrios was not evil He was logical and consistent; as logical and consistent in the European jungle as the poison gas called Lewisite and the shattered bodies of children killed in the bombardment of an open town The logic of Michelangelo’s David Beethoven’s uartets and Einstein’s physics had been replaced by that of the Stock Exchange Book and Hitler’s Mein Kampf”And even cynically but clear sightedly”Most international criminals were beyond the reach of man made laws but Dimitrios happened to be within reach of one law He had committed at least two murders and had therefore broken the law as surely as if he had been starving and had stolen a loaf of bread”The novel starts a bit slowly but very soon gains momentum speed and depth and it is well worth persevering through the first two chapters because you will be rewarded with a clever breath taking story as well with a portrait of Europe at that time I’d also recommend Ian Kershaw’s To Hell and Back as a parallel read

review ↠ PDF, eBook or Kindle ePUB Ô Eric Ambler

Ster criminal long wanted by the law whose body has just been fished out of the Bosphorus Fascinated by the story Latimer decides to retrace Dimitrios's steps across Europe to gather material for a new boo. So surprising for me to find this early spy novel to be among the best for tapping into the heart of the “Game” that nations have plied against nations to stay ahead I read that Ambler finished this work at the perilous time when the Nazis were invading Czechoslovakia in 1939 The lead character Charles Latimer is a novelist who like Ambler himself gets inspired about international intrigue from the multicultural society he experienced in Istanbul As a teenager I made the trip he took by boat from Piraeus to Istanbul and experienced the otherworldly sense he got from arrival by water to the bustling harbor of that ancient city with its skyline dominated by famous mosues in their architectural splendor This parallel hooked me from the beginningLatimer milks his contacts to get invited to a party of aristocrats diplomats and ex patriates of various exotic places Bored by the boozing the chatter and decadence some guests are playing strip poker he perks up with a conversation with one Colonel Haki who claims to admire his murder mysteries and offers him plot ideas It turns out he is the head of the Turkish secret police and has just identified the body of a man fished out of the Bosphorus who was killed by stabbing A French visa sewn into his jacket indicates him to be Dimitrios Makropoulos whom Haki has sought since 1922 for the robbery and murder of a Muslimized Jew in Smyrna Izmir during the time of terrible slaughter between Greece and Turkey From their common interest of making art out of crime and intrigue Haki challenges Latimer to see anything romantic or noble about the life of Dimitrios He treats him to a viewing of the body at the morgue“Here is a real murderer We have known of his existence for nearly twenty years This man is typical A dirty type common cowardly scum Murder espionage drugs—that is the history There were also two affairs of assassination”“Assassination That argues a certain courage surely”Haki denies that No this type of man does none of the risky dirty work himself They are the professionals the entrepreneurs the links between the businessmen the politicians who desire the end but are afraid of the means and the fanatics the idealists who are prepared to die for their convictionsAs far as I know no government has ever caught him and there is no photograph in his dossier But we knew him all right and so did Sofia and Belgrade and Paris and Athens He was a great traveler was DimitriosIn preparing to dispose of Dimitrios decaying body Haki hooks Latimer with the idea of filling in the huge blanks in his dossier But there must be people who knew of Dimitrios his friends if he had any and his enemies people in Smyrna people in Sophia people in Belgrade in Adrianople in Paris in Lyons people all over Europe who could answer them If you could find those people and get the answers you would have the material for what would surely be the strangest of biographiesLatimer’s heart missed a beat If one did it one would begin with say Smyrna and try to follow one’s man step by step from thjere using the dossier as a rough guide It would be an experiment in detection really Not that any man in his senses would dream of going on such a wild goose chase—heavens no But it was amusing to play with the idea and if one were a little tired of Istanbul And so Latimer takes up the harmless task of asking uestions about this mysterious and notorious figure to satisfy his literary curiosity But soon his uestions draws the attention of others with an interest in Dimitrios’ secrets Latimer has to figure out who are Dimitrios’ cohorts who want the secrets to stay that way and who are his enemies and maybe want revenge or money he might have hidden away Either way the answers could be dangerous to Latimer As an average kind of man with a lack of defensive skills he experiences reasonable trepidations But he finds he has become obsessed with his pursuit and can’t stop The suspense drew me on as he makes his rounds with a colorful set of characters as sources in exotic locales of seedy bars and nightclubs in various cities in the Balkans Paris and Greece Despite a minimum violent pyrotechnics common to modern spy thrillers this tale entertained me well with its slow unfolding of secrets and atmospherics It also had a very satisfying surprise ending It sits well among my old favorites of the genre set during the Cold War by Deighton and le Carre After that beginning decades ago I have long been disappointed with the horde of novelists I’ve tried in their wake

Eric Ambler Ô 6 Read

The Mask of DimitriosEnglish crime novelist Charles Latimer is travelling in Istanbul when he makes the acuaintance of police inspector Colonel Haki It is from him that he first hears of the mysterious Dimitrios an infamous ma. ”A man’s features the bone structure and the tissue which covers it are the product of a biological process; but his face he creates for himself It is a statement of his habitual emotional attitude; the attitude which his desires need for their fulfilment and which his fears demand for their protection from prying eyes He wears it like a devil mask; a device to evoke in others the emotions complementary to his own If he is afraid then he must be feared if he desires then he must be desired It is a screen to hide his mind’s nakedness” In From Russia with Love James Bond reads this book to pass the time on a trainCharles Latimer professor at a university and like many men of his profession also a writer of espionage thrillers was on vacation in Istanbul when he received an invitation to view the body of a notorious criminal named Dimitrios This brush with a real criminal starts Latimer on an odyssey to build a file on Dimitrios under the guise of research for a book but the journey was about satisfying his own curiosity about the man Eric Ambler a left leaning intellectual fully expected the Soviet Union to be an ally of Britain and his books from this period have sympathetic Soviet block characters This book was published in 1939 just before Germany declared war on Poland Ambler wrote five stellar thrillers between 1937 and 1940 of which this is considered his masterpiece He continued to write after that but could not capture the spark of his earlier writing The must read listUncommon Danger 1937 US title Background to DangerEpitaph for a Spy 1938Cause for Alarm 1938The Mask of Dimitrios 1939 US title A Coffin for DimitriosJourney into Fear 1940He influenced a whole host of scribblers that are among my favorite writers including Graham Greene Ian Fleming John LeCarre Alan Furst Len Deighton and many Eric Ambler the Godfather of the espionage thrillerNow Latimer is a bit of prigwell aloof certainly bordering on self righteous Ambler through a host of characters can’t help but poke some fun at Latimer ”You see Mr Latimer I have read one of your books It terrified me There was about it an atmosphere of intolerance of prejudice of ferocious moral rectitude that I found uite unnerving”Another character after a few drinks makes an observation ”You know” he said “you English are sublime You are the only nation in the world that believes it has a monopoly of ordinary common sense”As Dimitrios’s dossier grows Latimer realizes that the books he has been writing are far removed from the real world of an international criminal like Dimitrios There is nothing in Latimer’s life that would prepare him for his exposure to the feral survival instincts that Dimitrios exhibits when he kills blackmails or steals for money ”But it was useless to try to explain him in terms of Good and Evil They were no than baroue abstractions Good Business and Bad Business were elements of the new theology Dimitrios was not evil He was logical and consistent; as logical and consistent in the European jungle as the poison gas called Lewisite and the shattered bodies of children killed in the bombardment of an open town The logic of Michelangelo’s David Beethoven’s uartets and Einstein’s physics had been replaced by that of the Stock Exchange Year Book and Hitler’s Mein Kampf” The movie version was released in 1944 starring Peter Lorre as the Charles Latimer character They changed his nationality to Dutch probably because of Lorre’s accent It remains faithful to the book except for the fact that the relationship between Peters and Latimer is much warmerLatimer meets a man named Peters but he could have been called X or Y or Z because his name is a chimera easily changed with just a swirl of the hand They form an uneasy alliance Latimer has his teeth firmly sunk in the story and even though he has reservations about his partner he has to see this through Latimer wondered if he had ever before disliked anyone uite as much as he now disliked Mr Peters It was incredible that he should believe in this tawdry nonsense of his Yet believe in it he obviously did It was that belief which made the man so loathsome If he had his tongue in his cheek he would have been a good joke As it was he anything but a joke His mind was divided too neatly With one half he could peddle drugs and buy rentes and read Poems Erotiues while with the other he could excrete a warm sickly fluid to conceal his obscene soul You could do nothing but dislike him”There is a MURDER in SMYRNA Doesn’t that roll of the tongue heavy with exotic dangerThe war to end all wars was on everyone’s mind when this book was published The looming menace of another war that would forever change the name of THE world war to the first world war was beginning to be realized ”So many years Europe in labour had through its pain seen for an instant a new glory and then had collapsed to welter again in the agonies of war and fear Governments had risen and fallen; men and women had worked had starved had made speeches had fought had been tortured had died Hope had come and gone a fugitive in the scented bosom of illusion Men had learned to sniff the heady dreamstuff of the soul and wait impassively while the lathes turned the guns for their destruction”I found myself at times muttering to myself that Latimer needed to unbutton his collar maybe skew his tie and enjoy this bit of intrigue that he finds himself wrapped up in For me the story started slow but built nicely I can tell this is the type of book that improves with each reading The pacing once it gets going is nicely maintained The characters are truly dangerous people and I began to wonder how Latimer was going to continue to ask impertinent uestions without losing his nose or his life Dimitrios is kept off screen ;and yet his menacing apparition lurks in every paragraph The grand finale is a pyrotechnical display of heroics betrayal and greed