Journey into Fear is essentially an action novel designed to create suspense. Eric Ambler makes Graham an ordinary man to make it easier for the reader to identify with him. Like any other ordinary man, he is unwilling to believe that his situation is as dangerous as it is. At the same time, Ambler makes it clear that Graham is a rather cold person, uncommitted to anyone. He and his wife married only as a matter of convenience, and Graham has got through life by standing aside from people and from events, an observer rather than a participant in the real problems of the world.
It is only when Banat boards the ship in Piraeus that Graham realizes how terrifying his situation is. Yet while Ambler is primarily concerned with events which build Graham’s terror and are designed to carry the reader along, he also makes his characters believable. They are not fully rounded, but neither are they the kind of cutout figures who sometimes populate spy novels. Ambler’s method is not to get inside his characters to show their complexity but to present them to the reader as persons who are not what they seem to be.
Josette, for example, appears first as a sophisticated, though rather weary, woman of the world, and Graham himself realizes that she is playing a number of roles, shifting from one to another like a dancer gliding through the movements of a dance. Later, she seems truly concerned with Graham’s predicament, but she also seems to be...
(The entire section is 567 words.)