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Although Ambler opined that halfway through the book his original conception went astray (xiii-xiv), he accomplished more than he knew.
Significantly, fewer than twenty pages into his novel Ambler invests The Dark Frontier with seriousness by disrupting its mimetic framework via an interpolated set-piece on warmongering, a maneuver that reveals his authorial struggle against the modernist imperative of "impersonal" narration.
Ambler characteristically intensifies this hermeneutical drama by choosing for his protagonist a naif or accidental bystander who suddenly finds himself enmeshed in circumstances that outstrip his powers of comprehension.
By so framing his 1938 thriller, Ambler effectively scuttles the epistemology of mainstream detective fiction.
Diegetically, in other words, Ambler is forcing us to recognize the contingency that stymies his narrator's ability to single out the spy.
Although it might appear that Ambler is simply reprising the ancient theme of appearance versus reality, his 1938 text's emphasis on its protagonist's dispossessed status reinforces the idea that, "lies and more lies" being the era's new currency (257), the putative truth of anything is at best prismatic.
An assignment that Ambler received one year after the release of his third novel reveals how disposed he was, in light of contemporaneous events, to sabotage the presuppositions of old-fashioned detective fiction.
Also amblers aren't interested in how the money system works.