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The Light of Day Paperback – 20 Apr 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: No Exit Press (20 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842431749
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842431740
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 974,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Leonard Fleisig TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 Aug. 2006
Format: Paperback
if he will be in all respects a good subject of the Turkish government." Henry David Thoreau

In many respects, Eric Ambler was to the modern British suspense novel what Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett were to the American detective novel. Ambler transformed the suspense novel from a simplistic black and white world of perfect good guys versus nefarious bad guys into a far more realistic world where sometimes the difference between good and evil is not all that great. Typically, Ambler takes an unassuming, unsuspecting civilian and immerses him in a world of mystery and intrigue in pre and post-World War II Europe. The result was a series of highly entertaining and satisfying books that many believe set the stage for the likes of Ian Fleming, John le Carre, Len Deighton, and, most recently the highly acclaimed Alan Furst. The Light of Day finds Eric Ambler at the top of his game.

The protagonist and narrator is one Arthur Abdel Simpson who may, if his luck holds, grow rich in Turkey. Unlike his typical protagonists Simpson is far from an innocent person. Simpson is something of a hustler. Part English and part Egyptian Simpson makes a living hustling tourists arriving at the Athens airport. He drives a car for hire and passes himself off as a tour guide. Simpson has no aversion to fleecing those tourists he runs into at the airport. He first spots Harper in the Athens airport and thinks he has found a new source of ill-gotten funds. However, it quickly becomes clear that Simpson has met his match in Harper. Harper quickly sees through Simpson and almost before you can say "taxi, sir?" Harper has caught Simpson trying to rob him. Rather than have him arrested, Harper blackmails Simpson into working with Simpson on some sort of mysterious and quite unlawful plan.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 3 May 2004
Format: Paperback
The Light of Day is one of the finest crime thrillers ever written. It continues to serve as a model for all those who wish they could write a great crime novel. The story is taut, surprising and intriguing. The story's background is as rich for stimulating the imagination as anyone could wish. But what makes the book truly great is the protagonist, Arthur Simpson, who is both a fresh and indelible character. He is a weak man who preys on those around him, but is curiously appealing in his foibles and follies. For those who are movie fans, Topkapi was adapted from this book.
Arthur Abdel Simpson is a journalist by profession, but doesn't make much money at it. So he's temporarily earning his living as a driver for hire with his own car. As the story opens, he persuades Harper to hire him at the Athens airport. Keeping an eye out for the main chance, Simpson leaves Harper at a maison de rendezvous called Madame Irma's and beats it back to burgle Harper's hotel room where Harper surprises him in the act. Harper blackmails him with a threat to complain to the Greek police, and Simpson agrees to do a little job of driving a car into Turkey. No fool, Simpson takes the car apart on the way to Turkey to see what he's smuggling. Finding nothing, he proceeds overconfidently to the border to an unpleasant meeting with the Turkish police. It seems he's overlooked a little something. From there, he finds himself pressured to help the Turks capture Harper in the act while trying to get the blackmail evidence back from Harper. It makes for many delicious complications as he fails to understand the true nature of Harper's intent until he finds himself in the middle of it!
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By Henk Beentje TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 Aug. 2009
Format: Unknown Binding
Ambler has been one of the top suspense/thriller writers for many years, and for me still holds that crown. Usually his 'heroes' or protagonists are quite ordinary people, who come into rather extraordinary situations, usually in unusual places; not heroes at all, in other words. Normal people, who have to face the abnormal.

In Topkapi (1962), originally published as 'the Light of Day'. we get an anti-hero, istead. Arthur Abdel Simpson is a cheat and a liar, and in his slightly whiny voice Ambler reaches new heights, I think. He has always been very good at dialogue: natural, flowing stuff, as good as Elmore Leonard. You soon learn to take what Simpson says (the book is written from his point of view) with a large pinch of salt. And, amazingly, I found myself rooting for what is a pretty nasty character... Nothing is his own fault; he is always getting into scrapes because of others' peoples faults. "Persons in authority - headmasters, police officials - can do a great deal of damage by failing to understand the other fellow's point of view."

Simpson is a practical man, with his fingers in a great deal of pies, but in this book one of the pies bites back. Can Arthur extricate himself? Can he explain to the persons in authority that it was not really his fault as all?
If you like Flashman, here is someone like him; not as succesful, obviously, but someone with his morals more or less in the same place. "I have only been arrested ten or twelve times in my entire life." Highly recommended!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 22 reviews
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
The Light of Day - Possibly Best Novel by Eric Ambler 26 April 2003
By Michael Wischmeyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The Light of Day is an exceptionally good story that involves a rather unusual protagonist for a suspenseful thriller, a petty crook named Arthur Abdel Simpson. The setting is Athens and Instanbul in 1962. The book was a best seller, and it was adapted into a successful movie, a lighthearted caper titled Topkapi (1964). Peter Ustinov received an academy award for his portrayal of Arthur Simpson.
Arthur, as the protagonist in The Light of Day, is disagreeable, dishonest, and disreputable. He blames others for his failings, he cheats his clients, and he has served a short sentence for distributing pornographic material. Arthur is caught stealing and is blackmailed into driving a car from Athens to Istanbul. The bumbling Arthur is arrested for smuggling at the Turkish border and now finds himself working unwillingly for the Turkish secret police. Neither Arthur nor the reader quite understands the situation. Is he mixed up with a political plot, arms smuggling, drug trafficking, or something else? Despite my misgivings, I found myself becoming sympathetic to Arthur. Had he conned me too?
I highly recommend this suspenseful novel by Eric Ambler. I enjoyed (and reviewed) both Ambler's A Coffin for Dimitrios and Journey into Fear, but The Light of Day is even better. This book would be a good starting point for anyone new to Eric Ambler.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Intrigue, Adventure and a Curiously Appealing Anti-Hero 24 May 2003
By Donald Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The Light of Day is one of the finest crime thrillers ever written. It continues to serve as a model for all those who wish they could write a great crime novel. The story is taut, surprising and intriguing. The story's background is as rich for stimulating the imagination as anyone could wish. But what makes the book truly great is the protagonist, Arthur Simpson, who is both a fresh and indelible character. He is a weak man who preys on those around him, but is curiously appealing in his foibles and follies. For those who are movie fans, Topkapi was adapted from this book.
Arthur Abdel Simpson is a journalist by profession, but doesn't make much money at it. So he's temporarily earning his living as a driver for hire with his own car. As the story opens, he persuades Harper to hire him at the Athens airport. Keeping an eye out for the main chance, Simpson leaves Harper at a maison de rendezvous called Madame Irma's and beats it back to burgle Harper's hotel room where Harper surprises him in the act. Harper blackmails him with a threat to complain to the Greek police, and Simpson agrees to do a little job of driving a car into Turkey. No fool, Simpson takes the car apart on the way to Turkey to see what he's smuggling. Finding nothing, he proceeds overconfidently to the border to an unpleasant meeting with the Turkish police. It seems he's overlooked a little something. From there, he finds himself pressured to help the Turks capture Harper in the act while trying to get the blackmail evidence back from Harper. It makes for many delicious complications as he fails to understand the true nature of Harper's intent until he finds himself in the middle of it!
One of the delights of this book is the way that Simpson's true personality and character are exposed by others as they test him with their own investigations, tasks and questions. Gradually, the self-serving history that he shares in the book's beginning is exposed for the fraud that Simpson himself is. Yet, he's really more of a good guy than a bad guy. What makes him a fraud is that he overindulges in the all-too-human qualities of self-righteousness, vanity, greed, laziness and self-pity. You will find yourself identifying with Simpson and caring about how he handles his many dangerous tasks.
If you enjoy Simpson as a character, you can read more about him in another Eric Ambler masterpiece, Dirty Story.
I suppose that the ultimate appeal of all Eric Ambler's many fine books is that his characters are ordinary people who rise to the occasion to deal with very difficult situations in admirable ways, displaying courage, ingenuity and honesty under fire. Since Simpson is the weakest reed you could ever imagine playing such a role, he makes Ambler's point that there is a hero in all of us in a remarkable effective way.
After you read and enjoy this marvelous story, think about how you could rise to the occasion to play a hero's or a heroine's role for others. You can do it!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
"A man may grow rich in Turkey even 11 Aug. 2006
By Leonard Fleisig - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
if he will be in all respects a good subject of the Turkish government." Henry David Thoreau

In many respects, Eric Ambler was to the modern British suspense novel what Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett were to the American detective novel. Ambler transformed the suspense novel from a simplistic black and white world of perfect good guys versus nefarious bad guys into a far more realistic world where sometimes the difference between good and evil is not all that great. Typically, Ambler takes an unassuming, unsuspecting civilian and immerses him in a world of mystery and intrigue in pre and post-World War II Europe. The result was a series of highly entertaining and satisfying books that many believe set the stage for the likes of Ian Fleming, John le Carre, Len Deighton, and, most recently the highly acclaimed Alan Furst. The Light of Day finds Eric Ambler at the top of his game.

The protagonist and narrator is one Arthur Abdel Simpson who may, if his luck holds, grow rich in Turkey. Unlike his typical protagonists Simpson is far from an innocent person. Simpson is something of a hustler. Part English and part Egyptian Simpson makes a living hustling tourists arriving at the Athens airport. He drives a car for hire and passes himself off as a tour guide. Simpson has no aversion to fleecing those tourists he runs into at the airport. He first spots Harper in the Athens airport and thinks he has found a new source of ill-gotten funds. However, it quickly becomes clear that Simpson has met his match in Harper. Harper quickly sees through Simpson and almost before you can say "taxi, sir?" Harper has caught Simpson trying to rob him. Rather than have him arrested, Harper blackmails Simpson into working with Simpson on some sort of mysterious and quite unlawful plan. Simpson is directed to drive a fancy new American car cross the Greek border into Turkey and to await further instructions once he arrives in Istanbul. Simpson is quickly caught by Turkish secret agents who then blackmail him again into reporting on Harper's activities. As Simpson continues to narrate the actions of Harper and his gang on the one side and the Turkish authorities get ever closer to each other. Simpson is forced to walk a tightrope (literally and figuratively) that may just keep him from death or jail and may just net him a few thousand dollars in ill gotten gains if he plays his cards right.

Ambler is masterful when it comes to setting up a plot. He is not ham-handed or overly verbose but he does manage to convey a good sense of the inner workings of the principal characters in his stories. Ambler writes with a light touch when it comes to violence. It is more implicit than explicit. Yet the reader can sense violence `in the air' or at least the threat of violence as the plot thickens. He also has a keen eye for the various geographic settings in which his stories are set. You invariably get a feel for the streets and alleyways his characters come across. The Light of Day is no exception. Simpson is, as noted, no angel. He is a hustler and something of a con-man. Yet Ambler portrays him in such a clever way that you cannot help but hope he gets himself out of the mess he made for himself.

There was a critically acclaimed film version of The Light of Day made in 1964. Peter Ustinov won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Simpson.

I am a great admirer of Ambler's work and highly recommend any of his books to anyone not familiar with his work. They make for a nice read on hot summer days or long winter nights. The Light of Day is as good a place to start for anyone interested in discovering the author who shares no small bit of `genetic code' with le Carre, Fleming, Deighton, and Furst.

Highly recommended. L. Fleisig
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A Second Tier Ambler Novel 3 Oct. 2005
By Marco Antonio Abarca - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In my opinion, Eric Ambler is at his very best when writing about the intersection of politics and crime. Unlike many writers of his time, he understood the danger of first facism and then later communism. He best books were written before the Second World War "A Coffin for Dimitrios" and just right after "Judgment on Deltchev". His books about the end of Colonialism in Southeast Asia, "State of Seige" and "Passage of Arms" are also gems written while these events were happening.

Eric Ambler created the modern espionage novel and this is the genre where he shines. His crime novels like "The Light of the Day" are very good but in my view are second tier works. I can see why many reviewers gave this novel five stars. Ambler's writing style is so strong and Athens and Instanbul are exotic locations. While Ambler's lead character is very interesting, I found the plot to be too formulaic. He systematically goes from point A to point B and then to point C. There are none of the great plot twists which the best Ambler novels are known. Although a superior stylist, Ambler plods his way through this novel.

Vintage Crime/Black Lizard seems to be re-releasing all of Eric Ambler's novels. If you are new to Eric Ambler, he is defintely worth reading. He is a master of the espionage genre. However, start with another one of his more political novels. "The Light of Day" should be read after all the really great novels have been consumed.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Lively thriller by a genre master 3 Jan. 2002
By F. J. Harvey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Not least among the delights of this splendid book is that,until quite late in the day,the reader is never quite certain what type of book it is going to be.It hints at a spy story,it could easily turn out to be a political thriller with a coup at its centre In the event,it is a caper-heist story wih a gang of criminals intent on a daring museum robbery.(It was the source for the Peter Ustinov movie "Topkapi")
The other great achievement of the novel is its narrator,"Arthur Abdel Simpson".He is the son of an Anglo-Egyptian couple,educated in a minor English private school and a man of dubious honesty and an ex-con into the bargain ,having served time for the dissemination of pornographic magazines.When the book opens he is eking out a living as an Athens taxi driver/tourist guide/pimp.He is interrupted in the act of robbing an American tourist,"Harper",who blackmails him into delivering a car from Athens to Turkey neglecting to mention the illegal cargo concealed in the vehicle .When the Turks discover this they force the reluctant coward to act as their agent within the gang to whom he is delivering the car and its contents
The gang are intent on robbing the Topkapi museum and the robbery forms the climax of the novel.
Arthur is a masterly creation-cowardly,quick witted,oleaginous,and physically unprepossessing,yet strangely likeable
You end up caring for him and this transforms a well written thriller into something a little bit more memorable.The other characters are more sketchily drawn but this a minor caveat
Recommended!
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