Judgement on Deltchev (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) Paperback – 25 Apr 2003
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"The maestro is back again, with all his sinister magic intact." -"The New York Times Book Review"
"Genuine excitement . . . neat, brisk and altogether admirable." -"The New Yorker"
""Judgment on Deltchev" is a haunted manse-and you'll venture in at your peril. Once you're there, you'll stay till the end." -"The New York Times
"Vintage Ambler . . . readers of intrigue can settle under their reading lamps with a contented sigh." -"Chicago Tribune"
The maestro is back again, with all his sinister magic intact. The New York Times Book Review
Genuine excitement . . . neat, brisk and altogether admirable. The New Yorker
Judgment on Deltchev is a haunted manse and you ll venture in at your peril. Once you re there, you ll stay till the end. The New York Times
Vintage Ambler . . . readers of intrigue can settle under their reading lamps with a contented sigh. Chicago Tribune"
-The maestro is back again, with all his sinister magic intact.- -The New York Times Book Review
-Genuine excitement . . . neat, brisk and altogether admirable.- -The New Yorker
-Judgment on Deltchev is a haunted manse-and you'll venture in at your peril. Once you're there, you'll stay till the end.- -The New York Times
-Vintage Ambler . . . readers of intrigue can settle under their reading lamps with a contented sigh.- -Chicago Tribune
From the Inside Flap
Foster's dramatic skill is well-known in London's West End theaters. So perhaps it wasn't so surprising when he was hired by an American newspaper publisher to cover the trial of Yordan Delchev for treason. Accused of membership in the sinister Officer Corps Brotherhood and of masterminding a plot to assassinate his country's leader, Delchev may in fact be a pawn and his trial all show. But when Foster meets Madame Delchev, the accused's powerful wife, he suddenly become enmeshed in more life-threatening intrigue than he could have imagined.See all Product description
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The hero here goes to an eastern European country to cover a treason trial. Nothing is what it seems and most of the people speak with forked tongues. After several hair raising scrapes Foster(our protagonist) emerges battered but wiser.
As usual the writing is taut and the book is fun. I'm tired of coming across the perennial Ambler cigarette smoker,though. Signs of previous times.
At the height of the Cold War, Foster, a London West End dramatist is invited to write a series of articles in what seems to be a political show trial of Yordan Deltchev behind the Iron Curtain. Deltchev had been a moderate leader in the revolution that brought the currrent government into power. The charges against him are assumed by Foster to respresent a final way to liquidate Deltchev's party, because Deltchev is accused of conspiring with the group that he had personally opposed. Like the protagonists in many of Eric Ambler's best novels, Foster is hopelessly naive and inexperienced for the challenges he is about to face. Only his good intentions can hope to save him . . . but too often his good intentions put him into dangerous situations.
As the trial develops, many unexpected events occur and Foster finds himself unpeeling the onion of a complex mystery concerning what the real agendas behind the trial are. In the process, he learns a lot about himself and human nature in general. He faces important ethical challenges, ones that will leave you wondering what you would have done in the same situation. As a result, you'll find yourself walking in Foster's steps and sharing his reality. It's a chilling trip.
One of several fascinating areas this book explores is the connection between whom we trust and whom we do not. Foster gradually learns to cross-check his information, and digs to the bottom of many cross-currents of plots and subplots among the competing characters in the political tempest of a totalitarian regime. We can all learn a lot of good lessons from this story in overcoming out own shortsightedness about finding the truth.
Learn to appreciate the fragile and delicate beauty of truth . . . and how to seek it.
For those not familiar with his work, Ambler was to the modern British spy novel what Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett were to the American detective novel. Ambler transformed the spy 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 would take an unassuming, unsuspecting spectator and immerse 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 le Carre, Deighton, and, most recently, Alan Furst.
In Judgment on Deltchev, no sooner does the actor-turned- reporter Foster arrive at this unnamed Eastern bloc nation for the trial than he and is immediately caught in the swirl of intrigue surrounding it. Deltchev has been accused of being the mastermind behind a secret terror-society, "The Brotherhood"; plot to assassinate the `ruler', the nation's Stalin-like leader even though Deltchev himself had helped crush The Brotherhood in the not so distant past. Foster's first impression is that his local assistant is incompetent and that Deltchev is, of course, completely innocent. First impressions are often deceiving however and the more Foster learns the more he realizes how little he actually knows. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, the trial and the plot unfolds like a mystery wrapped in an enigma. As the plot develops Foster meets Deltchev's wife and daughter, government/party functionaries, and other foreign reporters who may or may not be stool pigeons for the government.
As always, Ambler brings a keen eye for character detail and plot development to his stories. His characters seem realistic and far from the pure black and white world that predominated the genre before Ambler's arrival. It is also interesting to note that this was Ambler's first book written in his name after the close of World War II. In his previous books set during the 1930s he had a series of recurring Soviet characters that he always portrayed with a sympathetic eye. This no doubt reflected the view that both Britain and the USSR had more in common (a common enemy in Nazism) than differences. Judgment on Deltchev represents a Cold War change in focus. This change in focus reflected the times and was soon followed by Ian Fleming and John Le Carre.
Judgment on Deltchev was an excellent book; one of Ambler's finest in my opinion. Highly recommended. L. Fleisig
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