With The Ability to Kill, first published in 1963, renowned thriller writer Eric Ambler turns his attention to true crime—with an emphasis on murder. In five essays, he presents a sampling of famously intriguing (and often disturbing) cases of the last few hundred years, including 19th-century Edinburgh’s Burke and Hare, who supplied the medical school with ill-gotten cadavers; Victorian London’s infamous Jack the Ripper; the Frenchman Henri Desiré Landru, an early 20th century serial killer; and the Californian doctor Bernard Finch and his lover Carole Tregoff, who conspired to murder his wife in 1961. Rounding out the collection are a few pieces on lighter topics such as spies and how to spot them, and novelists in Hollywood. Though his subjects are sometimes grim, Ambler’s deft touch makes this examination of homicide and other matters pure pleasure to read.
About Eric Ambler
Eric Ambler is often said to have invented the modern suspense novel. Beginning in 1936, he wrote a series of novels that introduced ordinary protagonists thrust into political intrigues they were ill prepared to deal with. These novels were touted for their realism, and Ambler established himself as a thriller writer of depth and originality. In the process he paved the way for such writers as John Le Carre, Len Deighton, and Robert Ludlum. He was awarded four Gold Daggers and a Diamond Dagger from The Crime Writers Association, named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers Association, and was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth. In addition to his novels, Ambler wrote a number of screenplays, including A Night to Remember and The Cruel Sea, which won him an Academy Award nomination.
“Delightfully macabre. . . . A diverting scrapbook of ‘true tales of bloody murder.’” --Chicago Tribune
“A charmer. . . . Ambler makes his own neat and wry contribution to true crime writing.” --The Washington Post Book World