Episode 1 (of 2): The Origins of an Obsession
English crime novelist Charles Latimer is holidaying in Istanbul when he first hears of the mysterious Dimitrios - an infamous master criminal long wanted by the law, whose body has just been fished out of the Bosphorus.
Fascinated by the story, Latimer decides to retrace his steps across Europe and gather material for a new book. Fascination tips over into obsession as he gradually discovers more about his subject's shadowy history - involving murder, prostitution, political assassination, drug-dealing and espionage.
The Mask of Dimitrios was written in 1939 by Eric Ambler, a key figure in the evolution of the crime thriller who brought realism and political awareness to the genre and influenced writers such as Graham Greene and John le Carré.
By using the criminal career of Dimitrios as a lens, it enables us to see the dark heart of Europe, a continent riven by violence and corruption. Its demonstration that the pursuit of money is the well-spring from which all other evils flow is as pertinent as ever - and its cast of drug dealers, shady businessmen and displaced refugees makes it seem astonishingly modern.
Dramatised by Stephen Sheridan
Original music by Neil Brand
Director: David Blount
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.