Journey into Fear Summary
by Eric Ambler

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Journey into Fear Summary

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

The action of Journey into Fear occurs in Istanbul, on a voyage from there to Genoa, and in Italy during the day the protagonist, Graham, an English engineer, arrives there. In the early months of World War II, Graham has been sent to Turkey to arrange for the rearming of Turkish warships. The information he has acquired will be carried to England in his head, so the Germans, to delay Anglo-Turkish naval cooperation, must try to stop him. When he is almost killed by a man he later identifies as Banat, a German agent under the control of the Gestapo agent Moeller, the Turkish Secret Police put him on a small Italian steamer which will carry him to Genoa, where he will take a train to Paris.

On the ship he meets Josette, a French dancer; Kuvetli, a Turkish business representative; Haller, a German archaeologist; and Mathis, a Frenchman who constantly irritates his aristocratic wife with his arguments for socialism. The ship sails first to Piraeus. Graham tours Athens, and when he returns to the ship the man he knows as Banat has come on board. Graham confides in Josette, for whom, in spite of her husband, he is developing romantic feelings, and he feels secure because he has a revolver in his cabin. The gun is stolen, however, and that night, when Graham returns to his cabin, Haller, who is actually the Gestapo agent Moeller, is there. Moeller suggests that since the Germans only want to delay the rearming of the Turkish warships for six weeks, Graham need only take a “rest cure” in Italy for that time as their guest.

When Kuvetli informs Graham that he is a Turkish agent, sent along to protect him, they hatch a plan for Graham’s escape. Kuvetli is killed, however, and Graham must confide in Mathis, the Frenchman, who lends him his own pistol.

Moeller and Banat take Graham in a car into the country beyond Genoa, and when it stops, Graham is informed that he is to be killed. He shoots Banat, leaps from the car, and shoots into the gas tank. The car explodes, and Graham gets back to Genoa, where the Turkish consulate, warned by Mathis, helps him get a train to Paris. On the train he meets Josette, rejects her husband’s offer of renting her to him for a weekend in Paris, and returns the pistol to Mathis.


(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Eames, Hugh. Sleuths, Inc.: Studies of Problem Solvers, 1978.

Lambert, Gavin. The Dangerous Edge, 1976.

Landrum, Larry, and Pat Browne, eds. Dimensions of Detective Fiction, 1976.

Panek, LeRoy L. The Special Branch: The British Spy Novel, 1890-1980, 1981.