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by Eric Ambler

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 fiancee 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.
Download Cause for Alarm epub
ISBN: 0891904662
ISBN13: 978-0891904663
Category: Mystery
Subcategory: Mystery
Author: Eric Ambler
Language: English
Publisher: Aeonian Pr (February 1, 1985)
Pages: 246 pages
ePUB size: 1309 kb
FB2 size: 1426 kb
Rating: 4.9
Votes: 955
Other Formats: azw rtf lit mobi

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.
The book Cause for Alarm by Eric Ambler arrived on time in good condition and on time.
The book is OK if you like reading spy books. It the type of book you read and throw away.
Classic 'Film Noir' feel. You can see why Eric Ambler would be the inspiration for Allan Furst. His use of the unlikely hero is always entertaining.
A very well written and interesting story of pre world war II spying in Europe written by a master of the spy story.