Buchan, John. The Thirty-Nine Steps. New York: Buccaneer Books, 1996.
Reason read: in honor of my birthday I wanted to read something fast and fun.
It’s May 1914 in London, England. Scottish expatriate Richard Hannay has a troublesome visitor. That’s the first thing I would say about The Thirty Nine Steps. An American stranger has come to him with a wild tale of espionage and knowledge of a planned assassination. Because he was in the know, according to this stranger, Mr. Scudder, he had to fake his own death. He has come to Hannay to hide himself and his little coded book of secrets. However, imagine Hannay’s surprise when that same man is found with a knife so thoroughly through the heart it skewered him to the floor! Needless to say, Hannay is now on the run…with the cipher of secrets. With Mr. Scudder dead on his floor, surely he will be the number one suspect. The rest of the short book is Hannay’s attempts to hide out in Scotland, a place he hasn’t seen since he was six years old, thirty one years ago. The key to the whole mystery is a reference to “39 steps” in Scudder’s little book.
Head scratching quotes, “He had about as much gift of gab as a hippopotamus and was not a great hand at valeting, but I knew I could count on his loyalty” (p 22)
Author fact: Buchan was a member of Parliament and Governor-General of Canada.
Book trivia: This is another super short book, only 126 pages long. Originally published in 1915 and made into a movie several times.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “100 Good Reads, Decade by Decade: 1910s” (p 174). But wait! There’s more! From Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Oxford – nonfiction” (p 171). It should be noted that Thirty-Nine Steps does not take place in Oxford, nor is it nonfiction.