“Between Kipling and Fleming stands John Buchan, the father of the modern spy thriller.” —Christopher Hitchens
Three young truants from a church meeting on Sunday make their way to a seashore hideaway, where they observe a huge black man muttering incantations and performing weird rites. When the man discovers the children, he chases them with a knife. In defense, Davy Crawfurd flings a rock at him, and they narrowly escape.
Years later, young David Crawfurd goes to South Africa to make his fortune and is caught in the very heart of a great native uprising. Under strange circumstances, he comes face-to-face with its leader, only to recognize the strange blazing eyes of the black man he had encountered as a child on the beach. How David makes his fortune more quickly and more perilously than he had expected is told in this thrilling tale of adventure.
In Greenmantle, Richard Hannay, hero of The Thirty-Nine Steps, travels across war-torn Europe in search of a German plot and an Islamic Messiah. He is joined by three more of Buchan's heroes: Peter Pienaar, the old Boer Scout; John S. Blenkiron, the American determined to fight the Kaiser; and Sandy Arbuthnot. Greenmantle himself is partly modeled on Lawrence of Arabia. The intrepid four move in disguise through Germany to Constantinople and the Russian border to face their enemies—the grotesque Stumm and the evil beauty of Hilda von Einem.
In this third novel following the espionage exploits of war hero Richard Hannay, the successful brigadier general is recalled from active service on the Western Front for another round in the spy game. His mission: infiltrating an antiwar league to bring down a network of German spies. Reluctantly posing as a pacifist, Hannay takes up his old identity as a mining engineer from South Africa to roam the country incognito in search of the deadly agents. His opponent is Morton Ivery, the bland master of disguise, who seeks to outwit Hannay as he and his agents are pursued through England, Scotland, France, and Switzerland. Once again, Hannay takes readers along with him for the twists and turns of espionage during the turbulent years of World War I.
In this tale of intrigue and adventure,Richard Hannay, the South African mining engineer and war hero first introduced inThe Thirty-Nine Steps, travels across war-torn Europe in search of a German plot—the creation of a secret weapon—and an Islamic messiah.
He is joined by three others: John S. Blenkiron, an American who is determined to battle the Kaiser; Peter Pienaar, an old Boer Scout; and the colorful Sandy Arbuthnot, who is modeled on Lawrence of Arabia. Disguised, they travel through Germany to Constantinople and the Russian border to confront their enemies, the hideous Stumm and the evil beauty Hilda von Einem. Their success or failure could change the outcome of the First World War.
With all the elements of a good spy novel, this tale offers a glimpse into the complex times of a tumultuous era.
- The Thirty-Nine Steps
By John Buchan
Read by Frederick Davidson
Release Date: 5/01/94
Formats: Digital Audy
Perhaps more than any other book The Thirty-Nine Steps has set the pattern for the story of the chase for a wanted man. And, of the many writers who have attempted this kind of thing since Buchan, only a very few, like Graham Greene, have managed to sustain the tension in the same way. The story's extended chase scene inspired Alfred Hitchcock's movie of the same name.
The Thirty-Nine Steps, Buchan's best-known thriller, introduces his most enduring hero, Richard Hannay—who, despite claiming to be an "ordinary fellow," is caught up in a dangerous race against a plot to devastate the British war effort.
It begins calmly enough with a rather boring trip to London. Returning to his flat, Richard is shocked to find his neighbor dead on the floor with a knife in his back. Near the deceased is a small black notebook containing cryptic notes about the "thirty-nine steps" and a black stone. As the situation escalates, Hannay is mistaken for a secret agent by the police. Now he must run for his life across the Scottish highlands, thinking his way through narrow escapes while trying to decode the thirty-nine steps.
With wit and flair, this old-fashioned roller coaster ride offers soaring suspense with a comic touch.