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A Coffin for Dimitrios by Eric Ambler
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A Coffin for Dimitrios (original 1939; edition 1977)

by Eric Ambler

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,266369,012 (3.86)88
Member:Bookmarque
Title:A Coffin for Dimitrios
Authors:Eric Ambler
Info:Ballantine Books (1977), Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Kicked to the Curb
Rating:****
Tags:2011, espionage thriller, cover scan, Ken, mmpb

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A Coffin for Dimitrios by Eric Ambler (1939)

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» See also 88 mentions

English (33)  Catalan (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (36)
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
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 |
Charles Lattimer, a mystery writer, is intrigued with the story behind the man in the morgue who, in the past, had been linked to multiple crimes in several countries. He sets off to find out about him and finds himself involved in a real life spy novel and all is not what it seems.
I enjoyed the style of writing and the nuances of a 1930s spy story. ( )
  TheWasp | Nov 3, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
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» 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
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Epigraph
'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
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To Alan and Felice Harvey
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A Frenchman named Chamfort, who should have known better, once said that chance was a nickname for Providence.
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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

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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