Gavin F (gavluvsga) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Gavin F

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Book #37: Epitaph for a Spy by Eric Ambler

Number of pages: 263

This was a book that took my interest a few months ago as I was browsing in a shop.

The narrator, Joseph Vadassy, is holidaying in France when he is arrested on the basis that he is believed to be a spy (the story seems to be set shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War). The accusation is based on the fact that Vadassy's camera was used to take photographs of a restricted area.

Vadassy pleads his innocence, and is released on bail, but realises that he has been framed by a real spy, who is staying in the same hotel as him. The rest of the book revolves around his attempts to unmask the real culprit, and there are several suspects, all of whom he has become aqcuainted with, including the hotel owner and several guests.

One thing I noticed was that Vadassy's narration often goes into great detail about his thoughts and feelings, which gave me a good sense of being inside his head as he contemptlated whether or not a particular character may be the person who framed him. The first chapter has him setting out very quickly that he was arrested, before setting the scene and giving all the details about how he ended up under arrest.

I noticed that occasionally the narrative did go into extended flashbacks told by the people who Vadassy suspects of having framed him, always to give their own backstory (it is always unexpected and strange) and prove that they are not the spy.

I enjoyed this book a lot; Vadassy was an engaging character, and the narrative was quite an easy one to read, and I kept wanting to find out who the real spy was. Most of the side characters in the book were also written very well, particularly the English Major who Vadassy is suspicious of. The book got very exciting towards the end as the real spy was revealed, so I wasn't disappointed.

Next book: I Love Dick (Chris Kraus)
Tags: drama, period fiction (20th century), thriller

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