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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Ambler - with a different kind of hero!, 1 Aug 2009
By 
Henk Beentje "Henk Beentje" (Kew, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Topkapi: The Light of Day (Paperback)
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 at all? The action flows from seedy nightclubs in Athens to seedy villas near Istanbul - and to one very upmarket site where the caper climaxes, but I don't want to give away juicy details for newcomers to this book!

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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Topkapi, 30 Jun 2011
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This review is from: Topkapi: The Light of Day (Paperback)
Topkapi is a fast-paced humrous thiller, containing no gratuitous sex or violence. The amusing anti-hero gets into all sorts of trouble due to his own perfidity and greed. A real page-turner. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a classic thriller, 29 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Topkapi: The Light of Day (Paperback)
I like Eric Ambler's originality of plot and his writing style very much

But I was dismayed to find so many printing errors in the book. Errors in individual spelling and wrong three letter words. I think that the publisher should proof read this book before reprinting it again
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5.0 out of 5 stars "A man may grow rich in Turkey even, 11 Feb 2011
By 
Leonard Fleisig "Len" (Virginia Beach, Virginia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Topkapi: The Light of Day (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. Topkapi 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.

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.
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Topkapi: The Light of Day
Topkapi: The Light of Day by Eric Ambler (Paperback - 6 Jan 2009)
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