True tales of bloody murder. In The Ability to Kill, Eric Ambler turns his attention to true crime-with an emphasis on murder - in this collection of five essays exploring famously intriguing and disturbing cases of the last few hundred years. He delves into the dark tale of Edinburgh's Burke and Hare who supplied the medical school with ill-gotten cadavers and the infamous Jack the Ripper of Victorian London. Though these subjects are sometimes grim, Ambler's skill at story telling make this examination of homicide and criminal activity a pleasure to read.
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This first American edition of collected true-crime pieces from the '50s and '60s by the master author of Epitaph for a Spy, Journey Into Fear, The Light of Day et al. belongs on every fan's bookshelves. Ambler's polite, leisurely stroll down memory lane is a delight. He deals with classic villains from England (Jack the Ripper), Scotland (William Burke and William Hare) and France (Marcel Petiot) along with more recent miscreants: England's James Hanratty (1961) and America's Raymond Finch and Carole Tregoff (1960). Ambler also turns his good-natured, sharp eye on film-writing and the pleasures of Maxim's, and there are lovely semifictional pieces on spies and spy-spotting. Especially delicious is the tale of "Annettee" in 1937 Tangier. There's nothing heavy here, and even Ambler's opposition to the death penalty is quietly posited. His new introduction has its share of graceful nuggets, too.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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