Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The 39 Steps by John Buchan

The Thirty-Nine Steps

  Set during May and June 1914 when war was evident in Europe, Richard Hannay the protagonist and narrator, returns to his new home in London, after a long stay in Rhodesia to begin a new life. One night he is interrupted by a stranger, a well-traveled American, who claims to be in fear for his life. The man appears to know of a plot to destabilize Europe, beginning with a plan to assassinate the Greek Premier during his forthcoming visit to London. The man reveals his name to be Franklin Scudder, a freelance spy, and remarks that he is dead. Scudder explains that he has faked his own death in order to avert suspicion. he then claims to be following a ring of German spies called the Black Stone who are trying to steal British plans for the outbreak of war. Hannay lets Scudder hide in his flat, and sure enough the next day another man is discovered having apparently committed suicide in the same building. Four days later Hannay returns home to find Scudder dead with a knife through his heart. He decides to go into hiding in Scotland and it goes down hill from there. The plot is eventually thwarted, and the United Kingdom enters the First World War, having kept its military secrets from the enemy.

The Movies
1935 Film
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll

1959 Film
Directed by Ralph Thomas

Kenneth More and Taina Elg 

1978 Film
Directed by Don Sharp

Robert Powell and Karen Dotrice

2008 Film
Directed by James Hawes

Rupert Penry-Jones and Lydia Leonard

Printing History
written by John Bucan (1875-1940)

William Blackwood and Sons

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