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The 39 Steps (Richard Hannay, #1)
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1001 book reviews > The Thirty-Nine Steps - John Buchan

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Kristel (kristelh) | 3896 comments Mod
Read 2015
A classic, published in 1915, It is 100 years old this year. I've always wanted to read it and it is very quick, an easy one to get off the list of 1001 Books. It is an espionage novel, written by John Buchan during a time when he was sick in bed and had read everything he could get his hands on. It's fast paced, you really never know why or what is really going on but the main character is running from the police and trying to avoid capture by the spies that killed a man in his apartment. He had been bored until this adventure overtook him.


Diane Zwang | 1210 comments Mod
3 stars. Read in 2015.

I rather enjoyed this witty mystery about Richard Hannay and an unsolved murder at the start of World War One. A couple passages that made me laugh. “Then I got a corpse – you can always get a body in London if you know where to go for it.” “I could not have made a more public departure if I had left with a bugler and brass band.” A quick read that was probably popular for the time some 100 years ago.


Jessica | 56 comments A wonderful spy adventure story that reads like a breeze. Amazing to think it was published in 1915, a contemporary to Sherlock Holmes yet this book has the overall feeling of The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le Carré.

The Thirty-Nine Steps is one of the earliest examples of the 'man-on-the-run' thriller archetype, it also presents the ordinary man who puts his life on the line in his country's interests.

My edition has a wonderful foreword by the author's grandson, who begrudges the first time reader who can experience reading this book for the very first time. I totally agree! I wish I could start over immediately.

The writing location, and the very location of the climax of this book, the stairs at St Cuby, a private nursing home on Cliff Promenade in Broadstairs, can still be visited. Perhaps one day I shall.


message 4: by Gail (new)

Gail (gailifer) | 1241 comments I gulped this one down in an evening. The classic precursor to The Fugitive, and some British spy thrillers, I loved the way that it didn't really have to be plausible to keep me turning the pages.
A very bored mining engineer finds himself leaping into a complicated scheme to save the world, or at least Britain, from some shadowy enemies who seemed to be German/Austrian. The tale takes place right before the declaration of WWI. Our main character is pegged as a murderer when a guest is found dead in his apartment. He takes off to stay ahead of the police, the spies, and his own hunger while simultaneously attempted to figure out and foil the Germanic plot. The author plays with the concept of "the perfect disguise" and our main character and the bad guys are perpetually acting a part. The wild moors of Scotland provide a mysterious landscape and many of the secondary characters fill in a delightfully amusing cast.
My library edition came fully illustrated too.


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