Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Book Review: Journey Into Fear

A Book You Can Buy From Me

Book Title: Journey Into Fear

Author: Eric Ambler

Publisher: Knopf (1943), Carroll & Graf (1990)

Date: 1943 (hardcover), 1990 (paperback)

ISBN: 0375726721

Length: 243 pages

Quote: "He put the key in the lock, turned it, pushed the door open and, with his right hand, felt along for the wall for the light switch. The next moment there was a splinter of flame in the darkness and an ear-splitting detonation."

Frankly, Gentle Readers, I'm over my head trying to review this book. I've read it; I can tell you that it's a spy novel about an Englishman who survives a dangerous journey across Europe in 1939, and that there are sexy women and violent deaths but no obscene details in it.

What I can't tell you is what makes one novel in this genre better than others. It's not a mystery: we know that Graham, the good guy, will survive, and we know who's trying to kill him and why. It's an adventure, but it's strictly a fictional adventure, so the author's portrayal of Graham's fear and courage doesn't really teach us anything.

The mystery surrounding this book, for me, is why my husband owned it. A gift? Bought to make up a dozen on a dollar-a-dozen book sale? A souvenir of childhood escape reading? He liked mysteries, but since Journey into Fear contains no puzzle to solve I wouldn't have thought he would have liked it. He owned some books that were gifts, that he'd never read...

Anyway, it was read and enjoyed all over the English-speaking world during the war years, and liked well enough to be reprinted fifty years later. And if you click on the ISBN link above, you'll open an Amazon page where reviewers who are apparently qualified to judge spy stories say this is one of the best. So I can say that, for people who like this kind of book, it's the kind of book they like.

Popularity lowers the price of a book that's been around for just ten or twenty years...this is another one you can buy from me, online, for $5 per clean copy and $5 shipping. Since Eric Ambler no longer needs the $1, those who may want to support the Books You Can Buy From Me system in order to support living authors should choose another book. You are, however, welcome to buy this book from me in order to support this web site: e-mail: Or, as usual, if you're in Gate City, you can buy the cleaned copy I'm willing to sell, probably for less than $1.