The Thirty-Nine Steps

By John Buchan

Rating: 3 stars

I had read this short novelette many years ago in school but picked it up recently for the first time since. I actually really enjoyed it. It’s an early spy thriller in which Richard Hannay returns to the Old Country from the colonies and finds himself caught up in a plot to bring the whole of Europe to war.

I found myself smiling at some of the period setting in the book, so unexpected for the genre, and Hannay not only had a lot of skill, but a lot of luck to help him throughout. I enjoyed some of the descriptions of Scotland, where much of the book is set, while Hannay is trying to avoid both the gang and the police, although it’s a very different Scotland to that which I’m familiar with, of course.

A short book that can be read in in just a few hours, it’s still great fun. I only discovered that Hannay went on to star in several other books as well and will have to look out for some of those.

Book details

Publisher: Wordsworth Classics
Year of publication: 1915

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