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Third Man and The Fallen Idol [Hardcover]

G Greene
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: William Heinemann Ltd (1953)
  • ASIN: B00110H6R8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Graham Greene was born in 1904. He worked as a journalist and critic, and in 1940 became literary editor of the Spectator. He was later employed by the Foreign Office. As well as his many novels, Graham Greene wrote several collections of short stories, four travel books, six plays, three books of autobiography, two of biography and four books for children. He also wrote hundreds of essays, and film and book reviews. Graham Greene was a member of the Order of Merit and a Companion of Honour. He died in April 1991.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
The Third Man, written originally as the outline for the screenplay of Carol Reed's famous 1949 film of the same name, is set in occupied Vienna just after World War II. The sectors established by the conquering British, Americans, French, and Russians contribute to an atmosphere of tension and mystery, and an almost palpable aura of menace as residents and visitors alike must deal with four different governments, four sets of officials, and four collections of laws as they move throughout the city.
Rollo Martins, an author of cowboy novels, arrives in Vienna to visit an old school friend, Harry Lime, only to find that he has arrived on the day of Lime's funeral. Investigating Lime's death, Martins learns that a neighbor saw the traffic accident that killed Lime and observed three men carrying Lime's body from the scene. Only two of those men have been identified--the third man has vanished.
As Martins investigates Lime's death, the novel is by turns exciting and darkly humorous, intensely visual in its descriptions and action, but lacking the characterization and thematic focus which one associates with most of Greene's work. The novella is full of wit and dark theatrics, and includes everything from a chase through the sewers to a love story.
The Fallen Idol, sometimes known as "The Basement Room," is, by contrast, a psychological, rather than plot-based story. Nine-year-old Philip, who idolizes the family's butler Baines, since his parents pay little attention to him, is left with Baines and his wife while the parents go on vacation. Baines is having an affair, and Philip innocently discloses this to his wife.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A screenplay with no apologies 30 Jun 2009
By Officer Dibble VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As Mr Greene said this was 'never written to be read but only to be seen' so for once no one has to apologise about having seen the classic film first!
Inevitably, the book is virtually a screenplay and other reviewers have covered the story excellently.

For interest, Martins and Lime are English in the book, Martins pretty much 'executes' Lime in the sewer and he also get's the girl. I also assume that Lime was the 'Third Man' at the scene of his own mock accidental death - unless someone knows differently.

When younger I always thought the sewer scene and the music were most memorable but on reading the novel the significance of Lime's prescient speech on the Ferris Wheel comes to the fore.

Only 98 pages, and hence sold with 'The Fallen Idol', the Third Man is a stunning, short, sharp, smack in the face of a read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Read 29 Mar 2013
By jonskin
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
But not really classic Greene in my view. As explained in the preface this was written as a screenplay rather than starting life as a novel in its own right. Of course the Orson Wells film IS a classic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I never knew Vienna before the war 13 Nov 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Its strange that Vienna doesn't seem to come across the British tourist radar - I don't actually know anybody personally who has been to Vienna, even if they have been all around the world. I was lucky enough to have a job there for a year, and see it through its four seasons, and I think it's the most delightful place that I know. There are still visible traces from the war with the giant flak towers still looming over Vienna.

Obviously how you see Vienna depends on whether or not you have seen the film, whether passing the Sacher hotel reminds you of the Officers billeted there, and passing the cemetery on the tram reminds you of Harry Limes's's funeral.

I think the book does give the atmosphere and I think is a good read on the plane over there, whether you have seen the film or not, and maybe will encourage you to visit if you had not thought of it before.

The introduction by Ian Thompson is interesting as well
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4.0 out of 5 stars Reading the Thrid man in Vienna 9 April 2012
I just bought this book while in a short stay in Vienna. It was very funny to buy it in a bookshop in Kartner Strasse and later, following the book visit the close by Sacher (plenty of sweet turist, though), the Prater and other locations cited or described in the book. The atmostphere now is quite different from the described in the book, but one only must get away from the city center, or visit some post-war memorials to see more resemblances with the ambient described in the book.

This is a book I enjoy a lot, thought it's very dificult to read it with an imagination as free as with other books, because the images and sounds from the film came continuosly over me.

The only little flaw it has, for my taste, anyway, are some details of the style, as when the narrator writes directly to the reader commenting one situation of the story. For all the rest a wonderful short story (well, two really, including The Fallen Idol)
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12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic espionage 24 Mar 2004
Mr Graham Greene’s short novel is set in Vienna just before the end of the Second World War. The city is described as “smashed and dreary” and when the action starts, Vienna is still divided up in zones among the Four Powers: the Russian, the British, the American and the French zones. Rollo Martins’ line is the writing of cheap paperback Westerns under the penname of Buck Dexter. Martins received an invitation from Harry Lime of the International Refugee Office to join him in Vienna. When Martins arrives at the Hotel Asoria, there is no Lime expecting him, but only a cryptic message for Mr Dexter from a man called Crabbin. Martins then decides to look for Lime’s apartment, but once he arrives there, a neighbour, a Herr Kurz, informs him that Harry Lime is dead after having been run over by a car. The burial is to take place the same afternoon at Vienna’s Central Cemetery. Martins goes to the ceremony and immediately after that, he is accosted by a man called Calloway, a policeman from Scotland Yard, who asks him if he knew Harry Lime.
This is the beginning of Graham Greene’s classic espionage thriller, very well constructed with wonderfully drawn characters and a suspenseful plot.
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