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The Thirty-Nine Steps
By John Buchan

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The Thirty-Nine Steps

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The Thirty-Nine Steps
By John Buchan
Transaction Large Print Edition
Transaction Publishers: 1999
ISBN: 1-56000-497-5
Genre: Spy Thriller

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - September 4, 2007

The Thirty-Nine Steps is a short, but riveting spy thriller by John Buchan. Full of intrigue, devious villains, and an irresistible hero, this story will have you holding your breath as the novel reaches its extraordinary conclusion. The story follows the adventures of Richard Hannay, a thirty-seven-year-old man of means. Although raised in South Africa, Hannay was born in Scotland, but left when he was six-years-old. Having made his fortune, he has returned to England to see what the country has to offer him. At first glance, he finds things a bit dull and is considering returning to South Africa. That is, until a mysterious American (from Kentucky no less) shows up on his doorsteps and weaves him a wondrous tale of spies, assassination plots, and the fate of the world. In short order, Hannay finds himself framed for murder and up to his neck in intrigue and danger. To save himself, Hannay must go on the lam, trying to avoid not only vicious killers, but the police as well, all the time trying to solve a mystery and prevent the world from exploding into war.

Told in the first person, from Hannay's viewpoint, this novel is marvelously written and well-plotted. The 39 Steps is a gripping read, and it is easy to understand why Alfred Hitchcock chose to adopt this story for the 'big screen', producing an equally gripping movie of the same name. If you've seen the movie, you'll find that Hitchcock took some major liberties with the storyline - and part of the fun of reading this book was seeing just how much Hitchcock altered the story.

Buchan (1875-1940) had a varied career, working as a novelist, historian, and a diplomat. This work, The Thirty-Nine Steps, was first published in 1915, and it does contain some antisemitic remarks that in today's world are politically incorrect. However, they parallel sentiments that were openly expressed at the time the book was written. In addition to writing several works of fiction including The Path of the King, he also penned a four-volume history of World War I as well as several biographies.

This large print edition was printed in a 16-point font size, making this non-stop action adventure thriller accessible to most visually impaired readers who need, or desire, a large print text.


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