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Set in the torn landscape of the Blitz, this book is a phantasmagoric study in terror. Arthur Rowe was hamstrung by guilt, the guilt of having murdered his sick wife. He was standing aside from the war until the day when he happened to guess the true weight of a cake at a charity fete.
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Greene classed The Ministry of Fear as one of his 'entertainments', a straightforward thriller. It is far from that, in fact it is one of his strangest, most unnerving novels. During the 1942 London blitz an apparently ordinary man (who is actually a murderer) wanders into a charity fete and, taking part in a traditional fund-raising competition, successfully guesses the weight of a home-made cake. This simple action leads him into a dark labyrinth of strange and inexplicable happenings - a meeting with two refugees, a fatal stabbing, an encounter in a deserted hotel, the opening of a suitcase, and then in the weirdest chapter of all, the central character... But that would be telling. The book has all the usual Greene ingredients: strange dreams and hazy, threatening memories, shadowy malign enemies, a romance which is a kind of betrayal, and at its centre the worst fear of all - the fear of a mind giving way, a personality distorted, a reality which is actually unreal. A thriller? Yes, and an excellent one. But also a very great deal more. (Kirkus UK)
Less bizarre than Brighton Rock or Thy Labyrinthine Ways, this is a return to the straight mystery novel which in Greene's hands is always something more. Psychologically provocative, atmospherically adept, it is the story of Arthur Rowe who by chance becomes the victim of a group of Nazi agents, operating and gaining power through fear. Strange occurrences, the cake at the fair which makes him the butt of murder, a seance where another man is killed in his stead, a bombing and subsequent amnesia which lands him in a private nursing home; strange people, the private detective who disappears, a fortune teller, the Hilfes - refugee brother and sister, and an enigmatic psychiatrist. Finally, in coordination with the Yard, the webbing of fortuitous events and individuals becomes clear - and Rowe is released from a past and private guilt, the killing of his wife. Ingenious intrigue, handled with fastidious finish. (Kirkus Reviews)
A master of storytelling
‘One of the finest writers of any language’ Washington Post
For Arthur Rowe the charity fête was a trip back to childhood, to innocence, a welcome chance to escape the terror of the Blitz, to forget twenty years of his past and a murder... Then he guesses the weight of the cake, and from that moment on he’s a hunted man, the target of shadowy killers, on the run and struggling to remember and to find the truth.
‘No serious writer of this century has more thoroughly invaded and shaped the public imagination than did Graham Greene’ Time
‘Opening a new book by Graham Greene is like settling into a gran turismo car. Nothing will go wrong’ Sunday Times
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Book Description Viking Adult, 1982. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M067047682X