Best 1938 Adventures (4)
May 13, 2018
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1938 adventure novels. Happy 80th anniversary!
Eric Ambler’s espionage adventure Cause for Alarm.
While in Milan, Nicky Marlow, a young engineer selling British grenade-making machinery (on the eve of another world war), is approached by German, Soviet, and Yugoslavian agents seeking his aid in gathering intelligence from Italian armament manufacturers. When he finds both his career and his life threatened by the Nazi agent, not to mention by Mussolini’s secret police, who use casual violence as a tool of social control, Marlow must place his trust in Andreas Zaleshoff, an anti-fascist American businessman of Russian descent who may be a Soviet spy. When Marlow and Zaleshoff flee the city, heading through northeastern Italy, by train and on foot, to the Yugoslavian border, the story kicks into high gear. (Some readers feel that this is where the story becomes too Buchan-ish; Ambler is the link connecting Buchan with Le Carré.) Like many of Ambler’s protagonists, Marlow must tap into a hidden reservoir of bad-assery.
Fun facts: The charming and heroic Zaleshoff and his beautiful sister, Tamara, also an anti-fascist agent, also play a significant role in Ambler’s 1937 thriller Uncommon Danger.
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES (in progress) | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.