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Richard Hannay is bored. He’s spent most of his life on the go in exotic South Africa, and dreary old London is damp and dull in comparison. But the world is on the brink of war—the year is 1914—and Hannay knows there’s adventure out there somewhere. He decides to give London one more day to deliver some excitement, and to his surprise, the good city lives up to its end of the bargain. Hannay comes home to find his upstairs neighbor, Franklin P. Scudder, in quite a pickle. Scudder is in possession of important information, state secrets about anarchists and assassins and political plots that hold the lives of thousands of people at risk. Hannay agrees to hide Scudder, who has faked his death to throw off his enemies, but a few days later a dangerous spy tracks Scudder down and murders him in Hannay’s apartment. Now Hannay is on the run with what he knows of the plot, hiding from both the political bullies who got Scudder and the police who want him for Scudder’s murder. There are codes to decipher, disguises to don, villains in aeroplanes to outmaneuver, aristocratic politicians to convince, and an important mystery hidden in the words “the thirty-nine steps.” Action-packed with thrills galore, spy fiction got off to a rousing start with The Thirty-Nine Steps. Lone men in possession of valuable information have been on the run ever since, from James Bond to Jason Bourne—and is it a coincidence that these infamous spies bear the same initials as The Thirty-Nine Steps author John Buchan? The thriller genre owes quite a debt to John Buchan and his cocky, crafty hero Richard Hannay, and this original escapade is a true-blue blueprint for espionage adventure.
posted Mar 11, 2010 at 10:55PM
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Returning from South Africa.