Peter Ackland is ordered to rest by his Doctor. He travels to Cornwall and is greeted by Henry Braddock at the door of a cottage below the 'skytip'. Braddock has a revolver in his pocket. Ackland also comes across Nathan Murrison and his valet, who divide their time between exploring the 'skytip' and propping up the bar of the Green Dragon; a charming young lady who, on behalf of a Member of Parliament, tries her hand at burglary; other less charming characters who try their hand at blackmail; and a stage that is all set for murder.
Eric Clifford Ambler was born in London. Aged fifteen, he won an engineering scholarship to a college associated with London University, but left without taking a degree to work as a technical trainee. Progression to the publicity department then led to a position with the its advertising agency, where he did well and became a director aged twenty six. He also took to writing; plays initially, but these failed to find an appreciative audience so he turned his talents to novels. These were not particularly well received by the critics as they were thrillers, but not of the ilk critics were used to. Ambler brought social realism to his work. He regarded the likes of Sapper and other authors of the time as writing about figures who inhabited a world very different from reality.Nonetheless, in time he became established as the 'father of the modern spy novel', which led John Le Carre to later claim Ambler was the 'one they all followed'. During the war he transferred to the army film unit where he made over ninety films, including The Way Ahead with David Niven and Peter Ustinov. Afterwards, he worked mostly in America as a successful screen writer, winning an Academy Award for his work on 'The Cruel Sea' in 1953. In 1951 he returned to novels and had immediate success with Judgement on Deltchev and others. Bored with screenwriting by 1969, because studios were insisting Hollywood stars take the lead whatever the storyline, which came to a head with Mutiny on the Bounty starring Marlon Brando, he moved to Switzerland where he continued to write novels, until returning to England in 1985. Amblers central characters are believable in that they are not necessarily well connected, or found to be harbouring aspirations to become members of the establishment. Rather, they are well meaning amateur underdogs who somehow overcome sometimes extreme adversity to win through. His later novels were great commercial successes, and literary equals of his earlier writing. They number such as Light of Day (also published as Topkapi) and also The Levanter which brought wide critical acclaim. Many of his works have been filmed, notably Topkapi, which starred Peter Ustinov as the petty thief, Arthur Simpson. There is currently a new nother version in prospect, to star Piers Brosnan, in which the now character Thomas Crown is scheduled to take the lead. Ambler was awarded four Gold Dagger Awards from the British Crime Writers Association and a Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement in 1986. He was also awarded an Edgar by The Mystery Writers of America and was named as Grand Master in 1975.