Books: Amble into Fear

PASSAGE OF ARMS (246 pp.)—Eric Ambler—Knopf ($3.95).

The typical Eric Ambler reader—a man who, in his own fancy, wears a belted raincoat and knows an automatic from a revolver—places himself in the author's hands as he would commit himself to those of a trusted bartender. He is entirely confident of the craftsman's skill and gratefully aware that such competence is increasingly rare. The latest Ambler amble (his first in four years) is less umbrous than such cloak-and-Luger exercises as A Coffin for Dimitrios and The Schirmer Inheritance, but it should be no disappointment.

The locale is that intrigue-ridden region that the Orient Express...

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