A spy novel from the early 195os, but taking place in the 1930s in the lead up to WWII. We follow an almost entirely stateless man–a Hungarian-born man with Yugoslavia passport that came to him through a brokered treaty in the wake of WWI and who finds himself in some trouble in France when his camera is confiscated by the police containing photos of armaments on the coastline of Nice. Because he is charged with espionage and because of his fragile existence in the country, his lack of financial protections, and his own inability to advocate for himself, he is tasked with defending himself from these charges. He realizes quickly that his camera (an expensive, but hardly unique model) must have been switched with an identical one so that when he took he multiple pictures of a single lizard to test out various lightings, aperture, and shutter speeds he must have used the remaining film that had previously been used to spy on the guns. So he must investigate the various long term guests of his hotel, where the person who switched the cameras accidentally and would certainly want their spy pictures back must be staying.
I read a previous Eric Ambler novel a while back and that one seemed so much more sophisticated and interesting, and while this one is perfectly good, it’s significantly less good. It feels older in nature, like early Agatha Christie or Erskine Childers’s Riddle of the Sands, as opposed to a complex thriller.