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.
Eric Ambler (1909-98) was one of the most fascinating British writers of the late 1930s. His novels retain a remarkable sense of the dread and terror that filled Europe as world war broke out. Some were made into films (not least Orson Welles' superb version of
Journey into Fear), all were bestsellers, inventing a new, more realistic form of spy novel, where the main protagonist is not so much a hero as a victim, pursued by malevolent Fascist forces of overwhelming power.