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The Schirmer Inheritance [Paperback]

Eric Ambler
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug 1988
It wasn’t anyone’s idea of a glamorous first assignment at a white show law firm. George Cary, former WWII bomber pilot and newly minted lawyer, was given the ignoble task of going through the tons of files on the Schneider Johnson case, just to make sure nothing had been overlooked. But, as luck would have it, George did discover something among the false claims and dead-end leads that made this into more than just another missing-heir-to-a vast-fortune case. And what he found would connect a deserter from Napoloeon’s defeated army to a guerrilla fighter in post-war Greece, and lead Cary himself into a dangerous situation where his own survival will depend more on what he learned in the army than anything he learned in law school.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Fontana Press; New edition edition (Aug 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006167349
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006167341
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 11 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,355,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Ambler towers over most of his newer imitators --Los Angeles Times

Ambler may well be the best writer of suspense stories .. He is the master craftsman --Life --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Eric Ambler was born into a family of entertainers and in his early years helped out as a puppeteer. However, he initially chose engineering as a full time career, although this quickly gave way to writing. In World War II he entered the army and looked likely to fight in the line, but was soon after commissioned and ended the war as assistant director of the army film unit and a Lieutenant-Colonel. This experience translated into civilian life and Ambler had a very successful career as a screen writer, receiving an Academy Award for his work on The Cruel Sea by Nicolas Monsarrat in 1953. Many of his own works have been filmed, the most famous probably being Light of Day, filmed as Topkapi under which title it is now published. He established a reputation as a thriller writer of extraordinary depth and originality and received many other accolades during his lifetime, including two Edgar Awards from The Mystery Writers of America (best novel for Topkapi and best biographical work for Here Lies Eric Ambler), and two Gold Dagger Awards from the Crime Writer's Association (Passage of Arms and The Levanter). Often credited as being the inventor of the modern political thriller, John Le Carre once described Ambler as 'the source on which we all draw.' A recurring theme in his works is the success of the well meaning yet somewhat bungling amateur who triumphs in the face of both adversity and hardened professionals. Ambler wrote under his own name and also during the 1950's a series of novels as Eliot Reed, with Charles Rhodda. These are now published under the 'Ambler' umbrella. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
By Leonard Fleisig TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
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 spy or 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. "The Schirmer Inheritance", although perhaps not Ambler's best, nor best-known, novel, is nevertheless a fine example of good storytelling.
The story opens in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. A young soldier from Bavaria, Sergeant Franz Schirmer, finds himself and his fellow soldiers in something of a bad way. It is a brutal winter, there is little food to be found in the countryside, and they are cut off from the rest of their army. Although Schirmer had fought both well and honorably, he comes to the conclusion that his role in the war is over. He deserts. Near death from hunger, cold, and a saber-wound, Schirmer finds his way to a desolate farmhouse. It is in that farmhouse that Schirmer finds the person who will become his wife. He lives under an assumed name, raises a family, and makes a decent living.
The next scene begins about 145 years later, in the offices of a high-toned Philadelphia law-firm. George Carey, a WWII bomber-pilot and first year attorney, is handed his first assignment: find any surviving relatives of a widowed Pennsylvania woman, Amelia Schneider Johnson. She died with a fortune but without a will.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
As always with Ambler, exceptionally finely-drawn, colourful and exotic detail: human, legal, historical, military, political and social. Wonderful observation of people dragged by circumstances from the comfort of their natural settings, which is what drives the narrative tension in his books. With a brilliantly-conceived and believable plot, three-dimensional characters and acute psychological insight, The Schirmer Inheritance is a classic page-turner. If you like thrillers for grown-ups, read Ambler. He doesn't date.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great 9 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It was nice to have a well written book from a while ago thourghly enjoyed it.Will look out for another of his books later on.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good, but a bit over hyped 17 May 2009
By Rob
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It was an okay read, got better near the end, but I was expecting some exciting plot with a great twist and found myself somewhat disappointed.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  25 reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars want to write an adventure story? Read Schirmer first. 19 April 2002
By mheckman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Ambler had developed the modern spy novel in the 1930s, then took time off from novel writing for army service in WWII. During the war, several of his early novels were made into Hollywood films he detested. When he resumed his output of novels in the early 50s, it would seem he had determined to exercise a degree of control over the eventual movies his stories might become by writing with a simple, vivid, forcefulness that no movie adapter could misinterpret or screw up. The prologue to Schirmer Inheritance is breathtaking in the speed and skill in which you are swept up into the story of the wounded Prussian cavalry sergeant, Franz Schirmer, who deserts during a retreat from a battle against Napolean. Fast forward 140 years to a Philadelphia law firm which is attempting to find heirs to the considerable estate of an elderly, childless woman, who turns out to be a descendant of the Prussian sergeant. A young associate at the firm is sent off to Germany to look for relatives and discovers that the only possible relative was last seen alive in 1945 in a Wehrmacht truck convey which was attacked on a Greek mountain road by partisans. No survivors were ever found including the NCO in charge of the convoy, Sgt. Franz Schirmer. The lawyer travels to Greece and Yugoslavia to try to get more definite proof of death which will satisfy the Pennsylvania Probate Court. The plot twists are ingenious without seeming contrived. The writing, as I said, is vivid. Schirmer Inheritance should be read in every college course on the modern English novel as a model of excitement with economy.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating reading! 23 Feb 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I can't believe that it's taken me so long to discover Ambler. I first read Coffin for Demitrios on a whim (and a little help from Amazon), and The Schirmer Inheritance is the third Ambler book I've read. In relatively short novels, Ambler combines intrigue, vivid detail, political intrigue and complex character development. The Schirmer Inheritance stands out for its historical context, the ongoing and developing tension between the two main protagonists, and Ambler's ability to keep you completely engaged throughout the novel. Think of this book as a series of mouse-traps laid out in a dark room. As you carefully walk across the room, you "feel" the traps, know that one or more will spring, yet you are drawn to the other side of the room by the power of the story-telling. Great fun!
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Ambler's Best 10 Jan 2004
By Marco Antonio Abarca - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I am a huge fan of Eric Ambler. I have read all of the recent Ambler re-issues put out by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard and I think this is his weakest book. I would recommend it to an Ambler fan but it is not the best book to start with.
Although the story is good, it has none of the over the top flair of A Coffin for Dimitrios or Journey into Fear nor any of the weirdness of Judgement on Deltchev. In style, this book reminds me more of Epitaph for a Spy. It is a good procedural type story but the ultimate pay off just was not there for me.
Eric Ambler is a master of espionage genre. Even his weaker efforts are a lot better than most of the books coming out today.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We now return to claim our just inheritance of old 9 Dec 2005
By Leonard Fleisig - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
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 suspence 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. "The Schirmer Inheritance", although perhaps not Ambler's best, nor best-known, novel, is nevertheless a fine example of good storytelling.

The story opens in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. A young soldier from Bavaria, Sergeant Franz Schirmer, finds himself and his fellow soldiers in something of a bad way. It is a brutal winter, there is little food to be found in the countryside, and they are cut off from the rest of their army. Although Schirmer had fought both well and honorably, he comes to the conclusion that his role in the war is over. He deserts. Near death from hunger, cold, and a saber-wound, Schirmer finds his way to a desolate farmhouse. It is in that farmhouse that Schirmer finds the person who will become his wife. He lives under an assumed name, raises a family, and makes a decent living.

The next scene begins about 145 years later, in the offices of a high-toned Philadelphia law-firm. George Carey, a WWII bomber-pilot and first year attorney, is handed his first assignment: find any surviving relatives of a widowed Pennsylvania woman, Amelia Schneider Johnson. She died with a fortune but without a will. The publicity over this case had led to thousands of false claims from people claiming to be relatives. Carey's assignment, one which he thinks will keep him far from the fast-track of advancement is to put the matter to bed, determine that there are no lawful heirs, and let the State of Pennsylvania take possession of the estate. But, as in every Ambler book, things do not turn out to be quite so simple. In short order Carey finds himself wandering through a devastated post-war Germany looking to follow up on some clues he obtained from an aging, retired partner at his law-firm. Accompanied by a pretty but seemingly repressed young translator Carey soon finds himself in post-war Greece and the Balkans. It is there that he tries to trace down a German soldier, one who fought both well and honorably in a losing cause. This soldier may be dead or he may have ended up working with a Greek-communist partisan group. Along the way Carey must deal with a varied assortment of people who may not be who they seem and whose propensity for the truth is a question for the ages.

Ambler's writing always places more emphasis on character development and a well-told story than on the type dramatic interludes found in James Bond stories, but this story is a bit more subdued than much of the rest of his work. Nevertheless, Ambler writes well and has a keen eye for details, both as to location and to personality. His description of post war Germany, Greece, and the Balkans has a very authentic ring to it.

Ambler knows how to tell a story. He does not waste words but those words move his stories along extremely well. The key question for me in reading any kind of suspense novel is: how well can I visualize what I'm reading. In the case of Ambler, I almost feel as if I am reading the screenplay of a film and that (for me) makes for a very satisfying read. So, even if this may not be the best of Ambler, it makes for a far more satisfying read than the best of many other books of this genre.

L. Fleisig
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Realistic and best Ambler 19 Dec 2003
By "ringokid6" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As one with guerrilla warfare experience,this story rings a bell. The descriptions of professionals and others in the disintegrating Greek Communist Vafiades-led ELAS Guerrillas of the late 1940s is striking. The plot twists are excellent, a are the brilliant thumbnail descrriptions of chaaracters, an Ambler forte. As a longtime Ambler devote, I feel this is his best mystery novel. Ringokid6
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