The ministry of Fear
Reading Graham Greene is kinda like eating ice cream: it’s really good in the beginning, you’re full by the middle, but you can’t stop and it’s those last bites that seem to taste the best. He’s got all sorts of action, mystery, a little love…the perfect recipe for a good, classic thriller. I think I’ve read about 4 or 5 books by him, all of them were entertaining and relaxing, yet only one stands out: The Power and the Glory. I’ve read it a couple of years ago and I don’t remember many details, but it’s the only book by him that left me thinking. The characters are his best (as far as I can tell) – they’re alive, flexible and not at all heroic; they pose questions that go beyond simple theory, they fight and, most of the times, they lose.
That being said, Ministry of Fear is not in ay way similar. Here, it’s all about the action and the thrills: Arthur Rowe, a man who’s killed his wife because he couldn’t watch her suffer from a terminal illness is unwillingly caught in a web of spies and treason. You’ve got detective work, secret films, memory loss and a blooming romance – all on the backdrop of a London under bombings. There really isn’t much to say about it – it’s predictable, the characters are a bit sketchy but it’s still a fun ride. And Greene conveys very well the feeling of the city under siege, its destruction, shelters and hopelessness – as he should since the novel was written in 1943, right in the middle of it all.
Graham Greene’s novels are very cinematographic – and he’s got a pretty big imdb page to show for 😉 , and a lot of the movies made after his books are quite good (my personal favorites are the 1999 The End of the Affair and the 1949 The Third man). This book was also made into a film in 1944, by Fritz Lang – I haven’t seen it, but as far as the imdb page goes, he didn’t stay entirely true to the original, at least in the names department 😀
So…you should at least try Graham Greene. There’s many out there who might do suspense better than him, but he makes is so quaint (if in England) or so exotic (if anywhere else – he’s very big on Central America 😉 ) that it’s a shame not to spend a rainy day with him 😛