Eric Ambler

English writer

Eric Clifford Ambler OBE (28 June 1909 – 22 October 1998) was an English novelist and screenwriter who wrote thrillers, often featuring spies, international criminals, or "stateless" protagonists who were not acknowledged as citizens by any country. His protagonists were typically ordinary people.


Passage of Arms (1959)Edit

  • "Let us hope the bad times are ended for good," [said Mr. Tan.]
    "Good business for one is good business for all," said Girija.
    "Very true." Now, Mr. Tan decided, they were coming to the point. Reference to mutual advantage was the accepted preliminary to a squeeze.
  • Hallett drew a deep breath. "Mr. Nilson," he said, "I wish you could tell me something. Why is it that when an apparently normal, intelligent, law-abiding citizen like you gets hold of a passport and a steamship ticket, he suddenly turns into a juvenile--"
    "Okay, Mr. Hallett," Greg broke in irritably. "You can't say anything I haven't already said to myself."

The Light of Day (1962)Edit

  • It came down to this: if I hadn't been arrested by the Turkish police, I would have been arrested by the Greek police. I had no choice but to do what this man Harper told me. He was entirely responsible for what happened to me.
  • In my experience, most people are extraordinarily careless about the way they look after traveler's checks. Just because their counter-signature is required before a check can be cashed, they assume that only they can negotiate it. Yet anyone with eyes in his head can copy the original signature. [...] People who leave traveler's checks lying around deserve to lose them.
  • I think that if I were asked to single out one specific group of men, one type, one category, as being the most suspicious, unbelieving, unreasonable , petty, inhuman, sadistic, double-crossing set of bastards in any language, I would say without any hesitation: "the people who run counter-espionage departments." With them, it is no use having just one story; and especially not a true story; they automatically disbelieve that. What you must have is a series of stories, so that when they knock the first one down you can bring out the second, and then when they scrub that out, come up with a third. That way they think they are making progress and keep their hands off you, while you gradually find out the story they really want you to tell.

Dirty Story (1967)Edit

  • Nicki, my wife, was off in Romania somewhere on a three-week tour with the rest of the troupe. She is an exotic dancer, and if anyone wants to know how it was that a man my age, still vigorous but admittedly a bit the worse for wear, came to have a Greek woman twenty years his junior for a wife, they must ask her. [...] A man is entitled to seek consolation, and an attractive woman is entitled to look for protection. I always handled her business affairs or her, and when she was in a good mood she called me "papa." I may add that Nicki worked because she liked to work, not because I made her do so. I took no commission. She was completely free to come and go as she pleased, and with whom she pleased. I asked no questions. I have regretted our enforced separation very deeply. I went through her things to see if there was anything I could sell.
  • It had been a most unpleasant day. [...] We had been questioned and cross-questioned. [...] The police couldn't have been worse. The questioner was a suspicious and bloody-minded Frenchman who made it clear from the start that he regarded us as undesirables. [...] My passport was received with a mocking smile. The bastard wouldn't take our word for anything. We had to show our money and count it out before his eyes. Then the amounts were written in our passports. We were warned against attempting to find work, unless it was in a ship leaving Djibouti, or to engage in the drug traffic. We were told, finally, that if either of us was still in the territory seven days hence, he had better be able to swim.
  • Never tell a lie when you can bullshit your way through.

The Seige of the Villa Lipp (1977)Edit

  • What use is an honest lawyer when what you need is a dishonest one?

Quotes about AmblerEdit

  • Mr. Ambler is a phenomenon.
    • Alfred Hitchcock
  • [Ambler is] the greatest living writer of the novel of suspense.
    • Graham Greene
  • [Ambler's writing is] the well into which everybody had dipped.
    • John le Carre