Monday, 10 February 2014

The Third Man & The Fallen Idol by Graham Greene

This is a slim little book, but the two stories in it pack quite a wallop. One, is, of course, the more famous, the basis for The Third Man movie. The other was also made into a movie, but is not as well known.

Interestingly, according to the foreword, The Third Man started life as a movie project, but Graham Greene found he had to write it out in story format in order to write the script. There are also differences between the story and the film, including the ending. I don't know what that means, in practice, as I haven't seen the movie yet. Hopefully that will be rectified soon.

In The Third Man, naive and somewhat blustering western writer, Rollo Martins (whose pen name is Buck Dexter) comes to Vienna after the Second World War, on the invitation of his friend Harry Lime, who promises him an opportunity to make some money. But he gets there only to attend Harry's funeral, and to be plunged into a morass Harry left behind.

The head of the American police force in divided Vienna accuses Lime of some pretty nasty dealings, but Martins is fairly sure that his old school friend could not possibly be guilty of anything so sordid. But as Martins is pulled deeper in to the mystery of Harry's life and death, all sorts of illusions will be shot and fall to the floor.

Having just come off a game of over a year of Cold City, set in Cold War Berlin, this setting both felt familiar and exciting. The divided city aspects reminded me of our game, and I enjoyed watching those international politics play out over very grubby issues.

In The Fallen Idol, a small boy is thrust into the middle of a war between adults, and has little comprehension of the ways he's being pulled and manipulated, and at the end, makes a gesture that determines the fate of his best friend in the world.

The Fallen Idol is not quite as intriguing a piece as The Third Man, but was still very enjoyable. This book did not take long to (re)read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. One of my friends tried to borrow it before I was done, so I've already passed it along.

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