Check out the Valentine’s Day Heart Hunt!
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Mask of Dimitrios (Pan Classic Crime) by…

The Mask of Dimitrios (Pan Classic Crime) (original 1939; edition 1999)

by Eric Ambler

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,311378,962 (3.86)91
Title:The Mask of Dimitrios (Pan Classic Crime)
Authors:Eric Ambler
Info:Pan Books (1999), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

A Coffin for Dimitrios by Eric Ambler (1939)


Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 91 mentions

English (34)  Catalan (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (37)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
Excellent between-the-wars spy story that sets the bar for later entries into the genre. The tale has also given numerous parts of itself to other writers. A solid bit of Charade, that delightful 1963 Cary Grant-Audrey Hepburn spies-in-Paris story, came from this 1939 tale.

But the main thing about reading the book, the primary pleasure unavailable to viewers of the 1944 film The Mask of Dimitrios, is that the movie timeframe makes the story more or less a highlight reel. It also seemed a bit off to me to make this interwar story in the midst of WWII...not a great time for the Balkan/Parisian/Greek dealings or the staunchly anti-bankster tone of the book to be filmed. So, quite naturally, they were left out.

The book unfolds, if not slowly, then at a steady pace and one that simply could not be filmed in that time. Now it would be a 4-hour miniseries, and that would work well. The story's action takes place by reports and in flashbacks, yet such is Ambler's gift with the gab that it doesn't...didn't to me, anyway...feel draggy or reported.

Skip the three-star film, read the five-star book, and never look back. ( )
  richardderus | Dec 24, 2018 |
Pg 37 - The situation in which a person, imagining fondly that he is in charge of his own destiny, is, in fact, the sport of circumstances beyond his control, is always fascinating.

Pg 52 - Political prestige is the reward not of the shrewdest diagnostician but of the man with the best bedside manner. It is the decoration conferred on medioracity by ignorance.

Pg 188 - A man's features, the bone structure and the tissue that covers it, are the product of a biological process; but his face he creates for himself. It is a screen to hide his mind's nakedness.
- The duplicity of others must always be shocking when one is unconcious of one's own. ( )
  DuffDaddy | Nov 20, 2016 |
Classic pre-war mystery in Graham Greene style. ( )
  PhilipKinsella | Dec 22, 2015 |
Part old style spy novel, park caricature of one, part a portrait of Europe in the late thirties. I cringed every time when I saw a Bulgarian name, city or place mentioned (they were awfully mangled but that might be the way they had been known to the English world back then...). Somewhere mid book I actually flipped to check again if it was written in the 30s or in the 50s - Ambler's perception of what was going on in Europe was way too accurate to be pre-WWII. And yet it was. The big surprise is not really a surprise if you had read enough spy and/or mystery stories but then that does not even matter. ( )
2 vote AnnieMod | Mar 27, 2015 |
Poor Latimer. An English economics wonk with a successful career as a mystery writer, a stiff upper lip and button-upped tight shirt to go with his button-upped tight moral code falls in with one of the most slimy, unctuous grifters to grace literature. One Mr. Peters, a cherub of corruption with glowing false teeth.
It is Latimer's own doing. While on holiday in Turkey he meets a roguish member of the Turkish secret police, another delightful minor character. Hakkis is a fan of the English mystery novel, especially of Latimer's books. They drink coffee (much coffee is drunk in this book), then Hakkis takes Latimer to the morgue to see the catch of the day, the body of Dimitrios which was found floating in the Bosphorus. Dimitrios, fig packer (by the way, that isn't an odd euphemism; he actual worked as a fig packer) murderer, hustler, political operative, pimp, all-purpose bad guy with a heart of rusted out chrome and sinister eyes fascinates Latimer who as an academic exercise decides to build a dossier for the dead man. The police accounts shot through with gaps and holes.

If I were on holiday in Turkey on the eve of WWII, I would instead have had another cup of coffee, then sat on the shimmering sands. Perhaps fetched a camel and sojourned to Ephesus. Spent a pensive hour at the home of Our Holy Mother. I WOULD NOT drink coffee with the head of Turkish secret police to begin with. I certainly would not then decide as a lark to look into the life and death of a Greek-speaking Turkish super villain. Perhaps you remember the Levant and the Balkans was a murky quagmire of intrigue and death at that time. But, each to his own. That's what Latimer decides to do. I am glad he decides to because it makes for a fantastic story. With Latimer one globe trots about Southern Europe. Paris! Rome! Geneva! Athens! Izmir! Istanbul! Sofia! One meets a colorful Marxist journalist who delivers my favorite line of the book, "Of course I was exaggerating. But it is agreeable sometimes to talk in primary colors even if you have to think in greys." Oh, one meets such interesting people. Several who take a jabs at Latimer's English armor, he wears a full metal suit of priggishness. Much of the books humor comes from this. ( )
1 vote lucybrown | Dec 12, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eric Amblerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Harris, RobertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mazower, MarkIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salvatorelli, FrancoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spencer, AlexanderNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
'But the iniquity of oblivion blindely scattereth her poppy, and deals with the memory of men without distinction to merit of perpetuity ... Without the favour of the everlasting register, the first man had been as unknown as the last, and Methusalah's long life had been his only Chronicle.'
Sir Thomas Browne Hydriotaphia
To Alan and Felice Harvey
First words
A Frenchman named Chamfort, who should have known better, once said that chance was a nickname for Providence.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375726713, Paperback)

A chance encounter with a Turkish colonel with a penchant for British crime novels leads mystery writer Charles Latimer into a world of sinister political and criminal maneuvers throughout the Balkans in the years between the world wars. Hoping that the career of the notorious Dimitrios, whose body has been identified in an Istanbul morgue, will inspire a plot for his next novel, Latimer soon finds himself caught up in a shadowy web of assassination, espionage, drugs, and treachery.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:07 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

While vacationing in Istanbul, an English novelist decides to investigate the intriguing past of one of Europe's most sinister criminals.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.86)
1 3
2 5
2.5 4
3 69
3.5 31
4 118
4.5 15
5 59

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 132,467,694 books! | Top bar: Always visible