This is a book I should have read in school. I think I have had this in my hands once, but fate had other plans. :P I couldn’t see it in library shelves either. However, today at last I am in purview of Richard Hannay’s adventure.
This is a small book, an early one of the spy thriller genre. Hannay is an expat Scot who’s back in England after spending most of his life in Rhodesia. And he is bored to death of the ‘Old Country’. (I rather liked the description of his boredom–I gave half-a-crown to a beggar because I saw him yawn.) As luck would have it, adventure comes knocking in the form of Franklin P Scudder. He has a fantastic story which must be true because it is so impossible. However, he ends up with a knife in him in our hero’s flat. So now Hannay must run, to complete Scudder’s job, and because he is the murderer in the eyes of the law. And run he does, all along Scotland, as a tramp mostly, so as not to let a bunch of German spies win. He is a pretty cool hero, and adept at escaping tough situations, with quite a bit of luck thrown in. The German spy angle did remind me of Sherlock Holmes’ The Last Bow. Hannay in the end does figure out the `thirty-nine steps`, even though it remains doubtful whether he is targeting German spies or ordinary Englishmen going about their lives.
A nice story, and a good read. Now I must get the sequels.