The Ministry of Fear eBook ✓ The Ministry eBook

For Arthur Rowe the trip to the charity fete was a joyful step back into adolescence a chance to forget the nightmare of the blitz—and the aching guilt of having mercifully murdered his sick wife He was surviving alone aside from the war until he happened to guess both the true and the false weight of the cake From that moment he finds himself ruthlessly hunted the quarry of malign and shadowy forces from which he endeavors to escape with a mind that remains obstinately out of focus


10 thoughts on “The Ministry of Fear

  1. says:

    ”Ah he thought Tolstoy should have lived in a small country not in Russia which was a continent rather than a country And why does he write as if the worst thing we can do to our fellowman is kill him? Everybody has to die and everybody fears death but when we kill a man we save him from his fear which would otherwise grow year by yearOne doesn’t necessarily kill because one hates one may kill because one lovesand again the old dizziness came back as though he had been struck over the heart” Ray Milland and Marjorie Reynolds star in the 1944 movie of Ministry of FearArthur Rowe is a murderer ”A murderer is regarded by the conventional world as something almost monstrous but a murderer to himself is only an ordinary man a man who takes either tea or coffee for breakfast a man who likes a good book and perhaps reads biography rather than fiction a man who at a regular hour goes to bed who tries to develop good physical habits but possibly suffers from constipation who prefers either dogs or cats and has certain views about politics”A murderer could be someone sitting next to you on the subway It could be the man with the heavy jowls looking like an accountant innocuous boring with blunt fingers and deceptively power in those slumped shoulders than you might first believe Or how about the woman sitting next to the Asian couple with the clicking knitting needles flashing like swords even in the muted light looking like an aging Kathleen Turner with crisp blue eyes that would hold your gaze as she slipped one of those needles under your ribcage and shoved it upward seeking your heart Then there is the youth hiding behind the Oakland Raiders hat and the wrap around sunglasses with the trashy underage girlfriend her eyes as old as Egypt twinned around his arm He doesn’t weigh a buck twenty not a threat to a grown man except that bulge under his jacket the Sam Colt descendent the great equalizer can kill a better man a bigger man a powerful man with just one jerk of the trigger Let’s set that aside for a moment “Tiger darling” Graham Greene’s wife used to say whenever she found a florid metaphor—and out it would go His rival and fellow Catholic Anthony Burgess said that Greene sought in his writing “a kind of verbal transparency which refuses to allow language to become a character in its own right” His voice is the driest of any great writer drier than bone From an article by Nicholas ShakespeareIt all begins with Arthur Rowe deciding at the spur of the moment that he will attend a charity bazaar It reminds him of tender memories of his youth He guesses the weight of a cake with real eggs and doesn’t win He gets his fortune told and in the uncertain light he is mistaken for someone else and the teller of fortunes plucks the thread of Rowe’s own destiny by giving him the “correct weight” for the cake He wins the cake This is during the Blitz ”’I didn’t imagine war was like this’ staring out at desolation Jerusalem must have looked something like this in the mind’s eye of Christ when he wept”The Blitz was a good time to settle scores an amazing opportunity to get away with murder as people are being killed every day by bombs dropping from the sky and landmines Food is scarce and there are people that will kill for a cake with real eggs but this cake is of interest to certain parties because of something else besides eggs in the batter Arthur Rowe has been caught up in something sinister There are people trying to kill himGraham Greene I see you lurking between sentences peering around the edges of paragraphs pressed up in the shadows at the spine of the book Hey you the guy lurking over there in the corner come on into the room enter the frameArthur Rowe launches his own investigation He can’t go to the police because he doesn’t have a clue what to tell them He hires a detective agency to help him try to discover who is trying to kill him He meets a girl and her brother twins who offer to help him He is accused of murder which has the police after him as well as the killers Rowe’s own past dogs him with every step ”A murderer is rather like a peer he pays because of his title One tries to travel incognito but it usually comes out”He will be for the rest of his life on trialHe is betrayedHe is blown upHe is incarcerated in an assisted living facility with his memories jumbled and missing He pines for Dickens whom he used to read over and over like other people read the Bible He does have access to a book of Tolstoy but finds little comfort there Books mentioned in books are always a comfort to me as if the author is giving me a wink of reassurance The investigative part of Rowe’s mind that was so essential to sinking him deeper into this nefarious plot is alive and well He soon discovers that he is being held rather than being assisted He escapes reluctantly ”He put his hands on the dressing table and held to it he said to himself over and over again ‘I must stand up I must stand up’ as though there were some healing virtue in simply remaining on his feet while his brain reeled with the horror of returning life”Things have changed in the two months he has been someone else Not all of his memories have returned so he is not even a complete Arthur Rowe yet The Twins remember the twins well they are not who he thought they were either He remembers his wife He remembers what he has done He sees it in everyone’s faces ”He wants to warn them don’t pity me Pity is cruel Pity destroys Love isn’t safe when pity’s prowling around” Wonderful still shot from the 1944 movie starring Marjorie Reynolds directed by Fritz LangThis is Graham Greene at his best with a convoluted plot with key elements hidden from us and a host of characters impossible to trust He puts us in the skin of Arthur Rowe knowing only what he knows which leaves us as bewildered as the main character Greene plays on my own fears of being incarcerated without my own memories to defend myself and yet knowing full well that I’m not who they say I am There is definitely a bit of Franz Kafka at play here This book was published in 1943 during a time when all of England had been thrust into the war Women and children are now at risk as much as a frontline soldier with death whistling in everyone’s ears as it falls from the sky on a daily basis Like the plot of many episodes of Foyle’s War one man’s troubles during such a time do not receive the same attention they would have been given before the war but when it is discovered that the most dear secrets of England are in the wind Rowe knows he can’t afford to fail He is an unlikely hero who finds the courage to muster the shattered pieces of himself and help save a nation Highly RecommendedIf you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews visit also have a Facebook blogger page at


  2. says:

    This is wonderful Elements of Brighton boardinghouse noir absurdist amnesiac crime and spy genres leavened with pre echoes of The Prisoner and 1984 and even Kafka's The Trial This book is written with Orwell's general satirical edge even if only a slight one is definitely the most entertaining book I've read in ages I'm so enjoying itI really love good writing for it's own sake and when that's married to plot and characterisation it becomes a book you can't put down And at the speed I read that means the book is too short Lucky for me that Greene was such a prolific writer


  3. says:

    I'm continually impressed by Graham Greene's work Even here in what Greene called an entertainment he displays exquisite sentence level crafting that's actually quite Jamesian in its sophistication and verve Greene's attention to character also shines in this murky story of espionage betrayal and mistaken identity The plot may have been a bit muddled for my taste the tension not building nearly as well as in his major work but this is a very fine novel that transports you to wartime London in a way few other books do


  4. says:

    First thing to say is that I thought the quality of the writing deserved a sophisticated plot The plot seemed overegged to me and kept changing key as if Greene couldn’t quite decide if he was writing a psychological thriller or a comic farce The novel opens with a preposterous premise – a cell of Nazi spies hide a vital roll of film inside a cake which is the prize at a fete That they choose this wholly irrational method of passing on vital information makes you feel you’re entering into a whacky comedy This feeling is given further weight when someone is murdered at an equally preposterous séance An entire chapter was then dedicated to a dream I don’t like dreams in novels It seems like cheating And this dream was a clumsy and unrealistic way of imparting important background detail However all this is taking place during the London Blitz and it was the descriptive writing and detail of his evocation of this moment in history that was my favourite part of this novel “In Gower Street they were sweeping up glass and a building smoked into the new day like a candle which some late reveler had forgotten to snuff” The plot though never entirely believable becomes gripping at the half way point Most of all though it was the quality of Greene’s writing that impressed me and left me wanting to read of his work


  5. says:

    This story takes us to London during World War II The air raids have reduced neighbourhoods to rubles people seek refuge in the shelters – there is destruction and desolation everywhere The author did not go overboard in depicting the destruction yet it was so effectively portrayedWe get introduced to our protagonist Arthur Rowe at the very beginning of the story when he attends a fete Rowe is man who clings to his happy childhood memories – he gets drawn to fetes with a childlike innocence keeps reading his childhood books again and again he does his level best to erase all his adult memories He also wishes if he would participate in the war as a soldier or at least as a civil defense personnel but none of them would have him You might have already guessed it – he harbours a deadly secret which makes him a pariah of sort and worse than that eats him up from inside I was surprised to come across a certain concept in this book which was written in the 1940sAnyways Rowe wins a cake at the fete and surprisingly the organizers want it back Rowe refuses and takes it home Very soon an attempt is made on his life and a past experience and an air raid what irony saves his lifeRowe now understands that something is not right and hires a detective – a certain Mr Rennit I shall quote Rennit so that you get an idea about him “I’m not Sherlock Holmes You don’t expect to find a man in my position do you crawling about floors with a microscope looking for blood stains?”Against the advice of Rennit Rowe decides to plunge into the investigation – makes new allies and soon is implicated in a murderI won’t talk about the story any as I don’t want to reveal the story too much If you decide the read the novel then it’s best that you don’t know much about the eventsI had started the book with very high expectations My journey into the “Greeneland” had never been unsatisfactory This novel falls in one of my favourite sub genre of thrillers a common manwoman victimized in a conspiracy and heshe ultimately triumphs using hisher determination wits and if required fistsguns whatever However I am not totally satisfied with the book The beginning was excellent – the mystery suspense was perfectly built but towards the end the story faltered The behavior of the villains did not make sense and they were portrayed as incompetent bumbling amateurs – some of them could have been like that too but all of them I like my villains to be cunning and ruthless The end was too melodramatic in my humble opinion This being a Graham Greene novel you can expect some fine writing and the author won’t disappoint I am saying that this is not a good book but if you compare it with his best novels such as Brighton Rock The Third Man or Our Man in Havana then it does not pack a punchIf you like your thrillers to be James Bond ish with car chases fancy gadgets and gun fights then this book is not for you However if you like Le Carre then you might want to give this books a try – you might end up enjoying it than I did


  6. says:

    In Ministry of Fear Graham Greene in disguise of noir thriller delves favorite and crucial to his work themes Responsibility for own actions blame sin sense of guilt duty morality Who is a bad man condemned and pilloried by society merciful murderer of choice or maybe out of necessity ? Or maybe rather people acting in the name so called good of humanity and by the way not respecting an individual human life ? Is it wrong to relieve the suffering of terminally ill person ? Does a man have the right to shorten someone's life and anguish ? Does compassion mercy pity love call it as you want give anyone the moral right to do such a thing ? Can such wretch normally live after and forgive yourself ? don’t pity me Pity is cruel Pity destroys Love isn’t safe when pity’s prowling around Tormented by guilt Artur Rowe wandering through the ravaged London on a strange impulse drops in the charity fair and wins a cake the same getting oneself in the middle of the spy scandal Entangled in terrifying and ridiculous events loses memory what paradoxically gives peace to him and makes him happy Alienated deprived of the past and unaware of chasing him demons falls in love Unfortunately the memory slowly returns and Rowe has finally to decide whether to accept his painful past with all its consequences Novel in a bit Kafkaesque tone has a claustrophobic and nightmarish atmosphere what only deepens feeling of desolation And after reading as my dear friend Mala said in her review you’ll never look at the cake the same way


  7. says:

    This novel has one of the best opening chapters of any novel I have ever read Arthur Rowe is a repressed and guilt ridden man living out the war in a London boarding house with little companionship So when he comes across a rather sad little wartime fete he is eager to recall the memories of childhood it evokes During the fete a misunderstanding means that he wins a cake However the cake was never meant for him and his sudden lucky prize has consequences he could never have anticipated This book was published in 1943 and in it Graham Greene paints an evocative picture of a war weary population Arthur Rowe is bombed than once during the novel and many of the people he comes across have a furtive nervous air about them London has been reduced to almost a series of small villages with people having to consider whether or not they have time to cross the city before the sirens go However the blitz is not the only problem Arthur Rowe faces He finds that he possesses something that the Germans want and they will use any means to acquire it In fear of his life Rowe tries to investigate the organisers of the fete and meets Anna Hilfe and her brother Willi Austrian refugees who seem to believe his outlandish storyAlthough in essence this is a story which has been told before – the innocent man who somehow becomes involved in espionage and murder rarely has it been told as well as this Despite the danger Arthur Rowe is a man who gradually begins to engage with the world around him again This is a disturbing novel in places a tale of coming to terms with guilt the weight of memory of love and loyalty Although the main character is mild mannered and bookish he has a disturbing past and is suddenly motivated to try to find a future This is not one of Graham Green’s most talked about novels but it deserves to be As a novel of wartime it is fascinating as a portrait of a city which is battered but certainly not beaten and I am glad that I have discovered it


  8. says:

    Innocence patriotism self delusion psychology memory complexity love deceit and heroismThe Ministry of Fear 1943 is a perfect book accessible clever beautifully written evocative tense and quietly profound A palpable sense of dread and unease runs throughout the story set in the early years of World War 2 in England primarily LondonOn one level the book is a simple story of espionage fifth columnists and a hapless man who gets caught up in things he does not understand however there is far to it than that The story which starts at a sinister fete and rattles along from the word go also muses on innocence patriotism self delusion psychology memory complexity love deceit and heroism Graham Greene is on the top of his game55


  9. says:

    A great story Arthur Rowe recently released after killing his wife to put her out of her misery and pain wanders into a fete Here he has his fortune told and unknowingly says a password He wins a cake with real eggs the story is set in the blitz of London Fromthere he is caught up in intrigue and fifth columnists A stranger tries to poison him He hires a detective to find out why He meets Anna and her brother Hilfe who try to help him A seance takes place and then Rowe finds himself on the run after someone is murdered with his knife He is tricked into taking a suitcase to a hotel where Anna appears There is an explosion and Arthur wakes up in hospital without a memory The next part of the story finds him without a memory He cannot remember anything after the age of 18 The rest of the story follows his escape cooperation with the authorities and finally a confrontation with the mastermind of the spy ring A great yarn It is also worth recalling that the novel was written in 1943 after the blitz and with fifth columnists widely reported


  10. says:

    It is amazing how much Greene packs into a 200 page novel Every time I finish reading a Graham Greene novel I feel like I have read a really large book even though most of his books are only 150 300 pages long The Ministry of Fear begins at a fete A nostalgic man Arthur Rowe roams aimlessly around the fete enjoying the sights and the sounds and then he wins a cake after a fortune teller tells him its exact weight But soon Rowe begins to feel that people are out to steal the cake from him After he hires a detective things really begin to unravel The plot is outlandish and unpredictable but Greene never goes into completely indecipherable Anthony Burgess territory Tremor of Intent MF Like in The Third Man which was set in Vienna the book has a comical and absurdist evocation of bombarded wartime England The elaborate hiring of a detective like in The End of the Affair Both these novels came after The Ministry of Fear though Discussions over glasses of whiskey A hint of Christianity and constant admonishing of pity which according to Greene is worse than lust sense of pity which is promiscuous than lust The book is filled with some amazing similes and metaphors which help create mood and strengthens the visual impact of the scenes The Ministry of Fear is vintage Graham Greene Yet it is unlike any of his other novels that I have read Maybe a bit similar to The Third Man Unfortunately the alcohol and fortunately the Catholic guilt are administered only in mild doses And nobody can write erotic scenes like Greene Rowe and Anna hustling around the hotel room suddenly realizing that they are holding hands The seance where Rowe hold's Miss Pantil's hot and dry hands In Heart of the Matter when Wilson and Louise kiss each other Greene describes their lips as being stuck together like bivalves and offers no further description Rowe's characterization deserves special mention He is someone who has let himself go a dreamer shut away from the rest of the world living with his landlady There are achingly beautiful passages which describes Rowe's feelings when he realizes that he has no friends left and hence nobody to ask for help The only people that know him are the friends of his long dead wife Maybe Greene was suggesting that certain aspects of our personality and memories cease to exist when we lose friends who the only keepers of those memories Even though the book is a thrilling adventure it is awash with yearning and melancholy The book is divided into four sections The Unhappy Man The Happy Man Bits and Pieces and The Whole Man I thought it was mostly about about a lonely and guilt ridden man achieving masculinity by getting involved in an adventure It is also about the power of memories how they can both make and break us The different aspects of patriotism The bitter sweet ending He was pledging both of them to a life time of lies It seemed to him that after all once could exaggerate the value of happiness underscores the novel's capriciousness with the protagonist falling for the girl not only out of love but also a sense of pity