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Rogue Male (Rogue Male #1)

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  1,972 ratings  ·  195 reviews
Rogue Male is one of the classic thrillers of the 20th century. An Englishman plans to assassinate the dictator of a European country. But he is foiled at the last moment and falls into the hands of ruthless and inventive torturers. They devise for him an ingenious and diplomatic death but, for once, they bungle the job and he escapes. But England provides no safety from h ...more
Paperback, 182 pages
Published June 1st 2002 by Orion Publishing Group (first published 1939)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeffrey Keeten
”I hold no brief for the pre-war spartan training of the english upper class--or middle class as it is now the fashion to call it, leaving the upper to the angels--since in the ordinary affairs of a conventional life it is not of the slightest value to anyone; but it is of use on the admittedly rare occasions when one needs a high degree of physical endurance. I have been through an initiation ceremony on the Rio Javary--the only way I could persuade them to teach me how their men can exercise a ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Incredible stuff. A big game hunter decides, on what he tells himself is a mere whim, to stalk somewhat bigger game than usual - the dictator of a certain central European nation. He is caught, tortured and left for dead. Only, he refuses to die, battling against crippling injuries and skilled pursuers to make his way back to his native England where he goes to ground - literally - and waits out the chase. It's a harrowing story of self-realisation as the hunter turns hunted and draws on previou ...more
Tony
The first-person protagonist of this book is unnamed, but everyone he meets knows who he is. He does not have a job, as far as the story is told; rather, he is an adventurer and a famous one. He is caught trying to assassinate a European tyrant (also unnamed but clearly Hitler), tortured, left for dead; and then when he is clearly not dead and back in England, bad guys pop up like some child's pounding game. At one level the book is about his very specific step-by-step flight and concealment. He ...more
Jim
Rogue Male is a strange book, if for no other reason than we never discover the name of the hero. All we know is the first name of his solicitor, the assumed name of his pursuer, and the last name of the character he calls The Second Murderer (after Shakespeare). Yet Geoffrey Household has considerable influence on Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, among others.

Rogue Male is pure adventure. The Hero walks from Poland into Germany, visits Berchtesgaden and draws a bead with his hunting rifle on Ad
...more
Reh
oh, i've only clicked four stars and it created an empty review. goodreads fooled me into thinking that it would simply add it to my already read list. now, i have no choice but to write a review to cover my tracks and spin an undisentangable web of deceit and cunning.

this plan was simple enough, the first step though, was to get some coffee to kick my brain into its thinking position. i needed some ground coffee, coffee machine, cooker, water, one and a half teaspoonfuls of brown sugar and a c
...more
Yulia
More books should be as compactly and neatly composed as this was. It's refreshing not to feel as if the author were dragging events on for the sake of gravity. The tone speaks for itself. Another accomplishment: I've already forgotten what small troubles I had with the plotting and protagonist because i was so satisfied by the ending.
Adam
Published in 1939, Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male begins at the conclusion of a spectacular storyline, and from that dynamic seed there grows an even more fantastic, and unpredictable, plot. The protagonist is a British big-game hunter who has, for his own reasons, gone cross-country on the continent and attempted to assassinate a head of state (though the target isn’t named, all signs point to Hitler). At the last moment he fails, and the novel begins after several days of torture and interrog ...more
Dfordoom
Geoffrey Household’s 1939 thriller novel Rogue Male deals with a plot to kill HItler. Only it’s not actually a plot, it’s more of a solo mission that at first seems to have no real motive.

Hitler is never mentioned by name and the attempted assassination takes place in an unnamed central European nation but it’s perfectly clear who the target is. He’s a dictator who is seen as a potential threat to Britain and his country shares a border with Poland.

More interesting than the subject matter is th
...more
Jessica
Sep 25, 2011 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: David Kowalski, Sketchbook
Am very glad to have come across this novel, and I'll certainly be looking for more by Household. The narrative voice is completely compelling and the story suspenseful.

Victoria Nelson, in her introduction, calls it a "wilderness procedural." Kafka, Robert Louis Stevenson, Defoe are mentioned. I thought too of Coetzee's 'The Life & Times of Michael K.,' and I wondered if Coetzee had read this. The novels are quite different but both men escape from 'civilization' and live on the run, close
...more
Ben Loory
supposedly the beginning of the modern suspense novel, this book is about an english big game hunter in a foreign country who gets a yen to see if it might be possible-- just possible, mind you, in a theoretical sense-- to assassinate the leader of that country as he relaxes at his country estate. things get pretty hairy pretty fast and although this was written 70 years ago it is by no means for the faint of heart. or the claustrophobic. there's some stuff in here i doubt i will ever forget.

p.s
...more
Newengland
Rogue Male is a chase book that gains momentum as it goes along. When the clever protagonist (being pursued) meets his match in an equally clever antagonist (giving pursuit), the reader can't help but breeze through pages to see who wins the high-stakes chess match.

Luckily, I stopped reading Victoria Nelson's introduction when I sensed it might give up too much of the plot. I went back to it after finishing the book and yes, it did, which makes one wonder why it's not an afterword instead of an
...more
S.
I love books where the hunted digs a hole in the ground or hillside and hides there with his supplies. I also have the urge to burrow, so I’m enthralled by the measurements from floor to ceiling, what the walls are made of, the tools, food, as well as the methods of going to the bathroom and enjoying a cozy fire without suffocating oneself. Such a going to ground is a particular fantasy of mine (and also one of the reasons I also liked JM Coetzee’s “Life and Times of Michael K.") and surely one ...more
Becky
This have been being promoted as a proto-Bond, however I thought that both the story and the central characters had more in common with Hammond Innes than with Ian Fleming. The story started with an unknown Englishman making an attempt on the life of a dictator that bore a striking resemblance to Hitler. We are told that this attempt wasn't serious, wasn't motivated by any igeological sense of duty; in fact it was just a sporting look to see if such a thing would be possible. This section of the ...more
Myles
The man is hunted down like an animal. Household's narrator, an unnamed distinguished hunter, drops right into his situation at the start of his record - the whole novel is a journal written at various stages in his journal. It accomplishes being both immediate and having the virtue of being able to reflect on the events from a later point.

The date is sometime in the mid to late 1930s. The hunter, our hunter I suppose I should say, writes he had a hankering for a new kind of target, a more dang
...more
Matt
A can't quite put my finger on what it was that caused me to pick up this book in the first place. It may have been the beautiful expressionist depiction of a winter forest on the cover, or perhaps the use of red in conjunction with shades of white and black. I think it may been the title in blood red text that compelled me to give this book a gander.

The brief synopsis on the back cover described an interesting yet not profound plot line. I think the quip which mentioned Household (whom I never
...more
Nicholas During
Are you into the genre of chase books? This book has to be the originator, not just of the books but of movies too. And if not it is definitely the best example of the chase genre that one could hope for. But there is a lot more than just genre fiction here. Though the moral conflict between "does one kill an evil dictator who is bound to kill many others?" or "does one maintain the Kantian virtue of not pulling the trigger" is a bit lame and overdone (though this reader is generally pleased whe ...more
Dagný
I enjoyed this strange book quite a bit. It was published 1939 and has, as its premise (made understood without naming names) the protagonist's stalking Hitler and having him in his crosshairs when apprehended, questioned, tortured and left for dead. But instead he escapes, and the entire story is his first person account of hiding while chased by the offended party as well as his own country's authorities, who did not appreciate his rogue foray into the (then) delicate political scenario.

The on
...more
Peter Swanson
Another book that always shows up in lists of the greatest mystery novels of all time. It was hard to find, but I got a used copy and checked it out. The book is in the man-on-the-run genre. An English aristocrat (we never learn his name) is hunting in a foreign country (almost certainly Germany) and decides to see if he can stalk and kill a dictator (Hitler). He almost succeeds but is caught, tortured, and left for dead. All of this, by the way, is in the first few pages of the book. After that ...more
Seana
I read this some time ago, but realize that I never wrote it up here. The Goodreads blurb is enough to be getting on with, but I thought I would mention something I learned from Victoria Nelson's foreword. She explains what Household meant by 'Class X' in the novel. The term had seemed to have a sort of snobbish possibility in it that I was wary of as I read the book, but in fact I did Household a disservice. In his own life, Household was quite a traveler and one night shared dinner in a restau ...more
Richard
Great little thriller that's full of suspense, twists, and lots of clever, well described details. The overarching plot is simple enough - man hunts central european dictator, gets captured, tortured, escapes, and becomes hunted himself, on his home turf. Along the way, the main character, an outdoorsman and aristocrat, gets stripped of most of the signifiers and relationships that define who he is, to the point where he is basically a blank slate, alone, and forced to survive with only his cunn ...more
Lois
At first reminiscent of Hugh Laurie's The Gun Seller, with its posh voice, clever comedy, and being-unwittingly-dragged-into-a-spy-thriller storyline, this book slowly reveals itself as a much more profound examination of the human condition in the twentieth-century political climate, from a pretty unique perspective. Sometimes the political and philosophical commentary is a bit overwrought, but considering the structure of the story as a confessional written in what certainly qualify as times o ...more
Kirsten
This is the best kind of thriller-- compact, claustrophobic, severe and tense. An unnamed protagonist, an unnamed but obvious dictator (his prey) and a number of hulking patriots hunting the hunter. This book made me cold, itchy, frightened and thoroughly opposed to visiting the English countryside. I read that there's a sequel-- Rogue Justice-- but I don't really want to disturb the memory of how this book ends. It's just about perfect.
Laura
Household painstakingly details every portion of the would-be assassin's flight and concealment from an unnamed (but thinly-veiled Nazi) dictatorship. The story is a bit too drawn out towards the end, but overall the atmosphere of tension is laid on so thick that you could cut it with a knife. I felt like I was right there with the narrator; both of us suffocating in a claustrophobic underground tunnel.
Casnewydd Hydra
Excellent and only improved upon by Michael Jayston narrating. Le Carre read by Michael Jayston is a delight.
Tony
ROGUE MALE. (1939). Geoffrey Household. ****1/2.
This was a recent release by The Folio Society that also contained an introduction by John Banville and illustrations by David Rooney. Household (1900-1988) was a very popular writer of thriller fiction back in the 30s and 40s. He was from Great Britain and was less well known in this country. I’ve only read one other book by him, probably about forty years ago. He didn’t write an any identifiable form; it changed from book to book depending on his
...more
Nancy Oakes
I first noticed this book some time ago when perusing the CWA list of Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time, first published in 1990. With the hope of someday being able to get through all of these books, I bought the NYRB edition of Rogue Male to add to my ever-growing mountain range of books to read. Funny though -- it's not what I would consider a crime novel, per se; imho it reads more like a spyish/thriller type thing along the lines of Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps. Nevertheless, it was quite ...more
Jennifer
I decided to read this classic novel having seen it referenced by several writers I enjoy, most particularly nature and travel writers. It's not the kind of book I would have arrived at by myself and I rarely read straightforward thrillers. I do however enjoy Christopher Brookmyre's brand of earthy, humorous, not taking itself too seriously thriller - a genre sometimes called Tartan Noir.

I loved this book from the off. It was as if I could hear the theme music from the Bourne trilogy films and I
...more
Issicratea
I defy anyone to read this novel at a measured and reflective pace; it’s one for wolfing. I devoured it at speed.

On the surface, this is simply a piece of very successful genre fiction—people compare it with John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps, and there are certainly similarities of plot (hero pursued by enemy agents; takes to the hills). It’s an infinitely better book than Buchan’s, though, in my opinion. It’s extremely well written, for one thing: taut, spare, understated, occasionally ellipt
...more
Sun
An unnamed Englishman is caught trying to assassinate the leader of an unnamed Eastern European government. Naturally that government doesn't think very well of him and torture him thinking that he is part of some elaborate conspiracy or an agent of the British service. These events are recalled some weeks later in a journal that the would-be assassin keeps as he escapes, eludes capture, returns to England and continues to hide from the police there. The man is a skilled hunter who has the persi ...more
Nathan
A quick read and a lot of fun; apparently there's a Fritz Lang movie based on it and that's not hard to imagine. The story is simple: a world-class hunter ventures into an unnamed Central European country to try his hand at hunting the ultimate big game--in this case, a notorious dictator. He's caught, tortured, and left for dead, but he manages to escape, and thus the reverse hunt begins. The bulk of the book details his survival efforts in vivid and claustrophobic fashion; Household handles hi ...more
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British author of mostly thrillers, though among 37 books he also published children's fiction. Household's flight-and-chase novels, which show the influence of John Buchan, were often narrated in the first person by a gentleman-adventurer. Among his best-know works is' Rogue Male' (1939), a suggestive story of a hunter who becomes the hunted, in 1941 filmed by Fritz Lang as 'Man Hunt'. Household' ...more
More about Geoffrey Household...

Other Books in the Series

Rogue Male (2 books)
  • Rogue Justice
Watcher in the Shadows Dance of the Dwarfs Rogue Justice A Time To Kill A Rough Shoot

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“I have noticed that what cats most appreciate in a human being is not the ability to produce food - which they take for granted - but his or her entertainment value. Asmodeus took to his toy enthusiastically. In another week he permitted me to stroke him, producing a raucous purr, but, in order to save his face, pretending to be asleep.” 14 likes
“I have never taken sides, never leaped wholeheartedly into one scale or the other; nor do I realize disappointments, provided they are severe, until the occasion is long past. Yet I am ruled by my emotions, though I murder them at birth.” 3 likes
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