The Levanter Author:Eric Ambler Michael Howell is a classic Ambler hero. The name may sound Anglo-Saxon, but with his Lebanese-Armenian grandmother and Greek Cypriot and Syrian-born father he is only "fractionally British." "Levantine mongrel" is his own preferred description of his pedigree. In conditions of extreme adversity, as he points out, mongrels are among those most l... more »ikely to survive. Survival, in a most peculiar jungle, is what his story is about.
Educated an engineer, Michael Howell ran the family business, Agence Howell, which acted as selling agents throughout the Middle East and operated a fleet of small cargo vessels in the Eastern Mediterranean. It was a highly profitable business, with office in Beirut, Famagusta and Alexandria, among other places. Unfortunately, among these other places was Damascus. that was where the trouble started.
Michael Howell first knew of it when he and Teresa Malandra, the Italian girl who doubled as local office manager and as his mistress, paid an unexpected night visit to a Howell factory. That was the night they encountered the P.A.F.
The Palestinian Action Force was a supermilitant group led by Salah Ghaled, an ex-El Fatah man denounced by the Palestine Liberation Organization as a criminal extortionist. This portrait of a modern terrorist, with his well-thumbed collection of atrocity photographs, is surely one of the nastiest that Ambler has ever drawn.
Forced by Ghaled to serve an an accomplice in the planning and execution of a major anti-Israeli guerrilla strike, Michael Howell attempts to extricate himself and his company. Though not, as he puts it, "a man of violence," he is compelled eventually to behave very much as if he were.« less
Setting: the Middle-East, late 60s to early 70s. International business and shipping during the unrest in Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria; the radicals versus Israel. Our business magnate stumbles into a terrorist group and must extricate himself. A great story that presages John Le Carré the denouement, however, is quite different.