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The Three Hostages

(Richard Hannay #4)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  882 ratings  ·  72 reviews
Following the end of the First World War Richard Hannay, the hero of John Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps, Greenmantle and Mr Standfast, has retired to the Cotswolds with his wife and young son. There, news comes to him of three kidnappings and a plot of political and financial magnitude that would shake the world. Hannay abandons his Gloucestershire idyll to counter the ...more
Paperback, 255 pages
Published April 1st 1995 by Wordsworth Editions (first published January 1st 1924)
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Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
The 4th Hannay novel; this one isn't as relentlessly fast paced as its predecessors. There are several chapters with a domesticated post-war Hannay steadfastly refusing to be drawn into a new caper but 'methinks the lady doth protest too much' and he's soon drawn in. It bothers me a bit that Hannay and wife join in only because the third hostage is a little boy like their own son; thy're oddly callous about the plight of the a young man and woman in the hands of what is described as a most ...more
The Three Hostages is the 4th book in the Richard Hannay adventure / thriller series by John Buchan. It was originally published in 1924. I've read the complete series now and, maybe because it's the freshest in my mind, I think it was the best book in the series.

Hannay is living on his estate in the country in western Britain with his wife Mary and his young son Peter John. He is now trying to move on from his WWI experiences, to enjoy a retirement, but he is brought back to reality when he is
Jun 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the fourth book in the series and my favorite so far. The war is over and Hannay is trying to relax in the country when he is approached about three possibly related kidnappings. Several comrades of past adventures are also involved.
In The Three Hostages, John Buchan puts into the mouth of one of the characters (Dr. Greenslade) what was very likely his own recipe for creating his adventure stories (or what he termed his shockers).

Look here. I want to write a shocker, so I begin by fixing on one or two facts which have no sort of connection You invent a connection simple enough if you have any imagination and you weave all three into a yarn. The reader, who knows nothing about the three at the start, is puzzled and
John Frankham
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This wonderful, fourth in the series, Sir Richard Hannay adventure, sees Hannay, ex-General and under-cover agent in WWI, now 42, dragged from his wife, child, and Cotswold farming existence, back into harness to help the rescue of three young hostages, taken so that the villain can, as well as furthering his craze for crime and stopping his activities being investigated, obtain complete mental control over his acolytes.

Well-written, witty and exciting, it shows again Buchan's great narrative
While a few aspects of this 4th installment in the Richard Hannay series show their age (this was first published in 1924), most of it is surprisingly still relevant. The use of propaganda to get fanatics or troubled youngsters to stir up trouble is something we can see today.

The only thing that bothered me is the abruptness of the ending. I would have liked one or two more pages although in reality, there was nothing more that needed to be said.
Julie Davis
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
What is it about these Richard Hannay books? It takes no time at all and I'm hooked, grabbing every second to read another page.

Unlike previous books, Hannay finds out the villain early on (and we realize it even earlier, leading to a good amount of tension as we worry about his growing friendship with the man). Hannay must play a cat and mouse game as he looks for three kidnapped people, staying close to someone he despises, pretending to be a doglike admirer. That goes very much against
Nov 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book can be got for very cheap since it is out of copyright in some places. Amazing book, it's great to get back to classic Buchan. The author has really become used to his characters and they fill the book with their various personalities (for all his silly imperialism). This one has Richard Hanney at his most un-hypnotisable, chasing round men of such strong will they intoxicate others with their presence. He doesn't actually get out into the country much in this one, and not at all to ...more
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: serious Buchan aficionados
Back in 2014 I rated this with three stars because, even for Buchan, it had so many bizarre riddles, coincidences, masquerades and an Iago-like motiveless malignity villain. Having just re-read it, I won't advance the book to four stars, but I appreciate it more and indulge in the whimsy. If you are new to Buchan do not begin with this one, but don't disdain to read it if you come to like Buchan's work as I do. It's fun in the grand context.
Marts  (Thinker)
Another Hannay adventure. This one goes a bit slow at first and ever so often throughout the narrative... The ending (or just the entire final chapter), after being overly descriptive ends quite suddenly, but the plot is generally a good one...
Syd Logsdon
Now the war is over and Hannay, with his wife and son, have settled in to a life of peace. It is not to last. Three hostages have been taken from three of Englands leaders, and the ransom is their support of a program destructive to England. Hannay, against his inclinations, enters the search for the hostages. Much of the story is a series of chases, following various clues, during which Hannay is once again forced to work against the ordinary police to maintain his secrecy. Even when he finds ...more
Sally Ewan
Jun 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I found a paperback copy of this at a recent library sale. While switching back and forth between several non-fiction titles, I decided to start this yesterday afternoon. I couldn't put it down! Buchan knows how to keep the reader on the edge of his seat as he reveals clues and as Hannay uses his wit and nerve to face down villains. I don't like regular 'detective' novels, but this book was a pure delight.

I was struck by the unwritten code of honor inherent in this book, one that has completely
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Imagining Hitchcock's Robert Donat imbuing (Sir) Richard Hannay with his special charm can't redeem much of the datedness of this. And even allowing for the attitudes of the time, the views toward blacks, Jews and swarthy others on offer here are generally rather deplorable. Could get past all of this if it weren't for a plot that is rife with coincidence and chance well beyond what seems plausible, even for a thriller of this nature. There is also quite a lot of hokum about phrenology and ...more
Sean O'Reilly
Apr 04, 2013 rated it liked it
On the whole this is a fairly typical Richard Hannay adventure. There is a convoluted plot concocted by an obscure villain; death defying chases across rugged countryside; a cast of supporting charcaters, some of whom will be familiar to readers of other Hannay adventures; and, inevitably, a successful conclusion.

As with other books by John Buchan there is an element of casual racism which rears it's head from time to time, which some readers will find difficult to accept. Personally I look at
Dec 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another fantastic book in John Buchan's Richard Hannay series. This one has Hannay searching out three hostages that were taken captive by Dominik Medina, a man who believes he has the power of hypnosis and plans to use it to put himself into highest leadership. The story starts off fairly slow, but by the last several chapters, it's nearly non-stop action. Overall, a very fantastic read, as if you could expect any less from Buchan.
Oct 25, 2009 rated it it was ok
A, now Sir, Richard Hannay adventure but one more cerebral than his suspenseful, exciting The Thirty Nine Steps. As such the suspense is more drawn out and the best excitement comes towards the end when Hannay and his opponent face each other in the Scottish hills.
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Buchan wrote so well and his hero, Richard Hannay, a quintessential Englishman, is brave and clever although he doesn't see himself as such. This was a tension-filled and exciting story, set in the 1920s and Hannay is now married with a young son. Very entertaining.
review of
John Buchan's The Three Hostages
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - June 13, 2019

I got this bk, used, b/c the jacket informed me that the author had also written The Thirty-Nine Steps. I've never read that but I enjoyed the Alfred Hitchcock movie based on it so I wanted to read something by Buchan. I've used snippets of the Hitchcock movie in my movie entitled The 26 Mmmms: . A further enticement for buying this bk was that it's a paperback-sized hardback.

Aug 23, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Entirely preposterous and the views in it are so bizarre and antiquated. Enjoyable twaddle.
Todd Stockslager
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Review title: Richard Hannay riddles

In the Fourth Hannay novel (see my reviews of The Thirty-nine Steps and Greenmantle) the intrepid hero of the first World War has married, become a father, and retired to a countryside estate to live the quite live of a landed gentryman. Slim chance of that--an old wartime acquaintance in Scotland Yard sends Hannay an urgent telegram telling if three kidnappings linked as near as the police can tell only by six lines of a poem. At first refusing the case as
Annabel Frazer
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my favourite of the Buchan thrillers - partly, these days, because being set in Britain with an almost entirely British cast, it manages to avoid the casual racism which makes so many other Buchans these days difficult to read. But more because in my view, it has a more ingenious plot with real puzzles satisfyingly resolved than, say, The Thirty-Nine Steps (which depends on a lot of running around and some extraordinary coincidences, plus an absolutely cracking title). It also has, again ...more
Reader beware:

This is very much of it's time and the casual racism that was perfectly normal then is extremely offensive now. Only read this is you are prepared for that and aren't going to be overly upset by the norms of a different age.

That said it's a ripping yarn whose plot could easily transfer to a James Bond movie. Post First World War a multi national plot is discovered which Richard Hannay is brought out of self imposed retirement to solve.
Patricia Roberts-Miller
I read this many years ago, but this time saw all the easy racism, the false narratives of WWI that enabled appeasement. From the perspective of wanting to understand why the Brits engaged in appeasement, this is a perfect book.
Deanne Davies
Apr 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A most enjoyable thriller cleverly plotted.
Randal Schmidt
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Buchan's "Richard Hannay" series. Looking forward to reading the fifth book soon.
Stuart Haining
Good plot, spoilt by a few too many descriptions of Scottish crags!
Gordon Mckinlay
A nice easy read. Although the language can jar sometimes (racist and sexist language) the Richard Hanny stories remain good.
Rog Harrison
I feel a bit mean only giving this two stars as the author is a good writer but on this occasion the plot was so unbelievable and the coincidences too many for me to go with the flow. There were also several racist comments which grated on me though to be fair this book was originally published in 1924 when attitudes were very different from what they are today.

Hannay is now Sir Richard Hannay and is married with a young son. He becomes aware of a master criminal who has kidnapped three people
An Odd1
Oct 22, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sir Richard Hannay 40s narrates, happy with Fosse Manor, wife Mary Lamington (both in Mr Standfast), son Peter John 15 months, until evil likable "fall under his charm at first sight" p 68 Dominick Medina early 30s wants to rule the world.

First Hannay is "fascinated" p 83, "under the spell" p 90. Servant Odell was recently "in the ring" p 103. Hannay resists hypnotism (of blind gypsy mother?) to rescue 3 hidden hostages - David son of Sir Arthur Warcliff, Adela Victor fiancée of Marquis
Ben Westerham
This one features Richard Hannay, he of the '39 Steps', and is a similar type of boys own adventure story set amongst the upper elechons of British society shortly after the First World War.

The basic story is at heart one of adventure and in that respect is a pretty decent one, especially the final show-down, which has all the ingredients you would expect from such a book. However, there is also a strong theme that runs throughout that is concerned with the way that people's minds can be swayed
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John Buchan (1st Baron Tweedsmuir) was a Scottish novelist and public servant who combined a successful career as an author of thrillers, historical novels, histories and biographies with a parallel career in public life. At the time of his death he was Governor-General of Canada.

Buchan was educated at Glasgow and Oxford Universities. After a brief career in law he went to South Africa in 1902

Other books in the series

Richard Hannay (5 books)
  • The 39 Steps (Richard Hannay, #1)
  • Greenmantle (Richard Hannay #2)
  • Mr. Standfast
  • The Island of Sheep (Richard Hannay #5)

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