In his autobiography Ambler admits that after his first six novels, while working for the British military's cinematography unit, he lost "the habit of a concentrated and solitary writing routine.
Several of the post-war novels that Ambler published before The Intercom Conspiracy indicate how his thematic compass changed.
And toward that end Ambler begins by bracketing, or playfully putting out of play, the whole notion of authorship.
Before all this transpires, however, Ambler explores how the consortium's untraceable scheme generates a chain reaction of confusion and suspicion among those whom it entangles.
Writing the first critical essay on Ambler, Paxton Davis maintains that this elliptical narrative is "an autumnal work of extraordinary virtuosity" (10).
Keeping this point in mind, however, let us assume for the sake of argument that, if Ambler cannot be pigeonholed as a "spy novelist," he did indeed write spy fiction (six of his eighteen novels, after all, include secret agents).
Latent in both points is the implication that, by immersing us in a shadowy world of encrypted signification, fiction of the kind that Ambler wrote mirrors, stages, or reenacts the reading process itself--one wherein we become accomplices in a metatextual drama of interpretation.
By transforming the pulp fiction of his day and challenging the established literature of detection, Ambler elevated the thriller to a new level of narrational sophistication.
Waiting for Orders: The Complete Short Stories of Eric Ambler.
Beyond the Balkans: Eric Ambler and the British Espionage Novel, 1936-1940.