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The Thirty-Nine Steps(Richard Hannay #1)

  10/02/2012       Lichking666      0 Comments

by John Buchan

Category: Architecture

  • Type: Paperback
  • Pages: 109 pages
  • ISBN: none
  • ASIN: B00EDWI1GG
  • Edition Language: English

I am currently working my way through the list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die and decided to read Buchans short mystery/spy novel because it seemed like a quick and easy option to take me a step closer to maybe one day completing the list. I never imagined it would be such a painfully boring slog. Some books made the big list because they are actually good, some because they are (or were) scandalous, some because they are so far away from pretty much everything else thats been written, and some because they kick-started something or opened up a new type of genre and/or storytelling. I believe The Thirty-Nine Steps falls into this last category. It arguably introduced the world to the spy genre and has resulted in many attempted imitations over the years since its publication in 1915. But in terms of plot, writing and characters it just seems to me to have very little to offer. It may be one of the first of its kind, but many other authors have bettered the genre, in my opinion. I would use John le Carré as a prime example.The novel begins with the bored Richard Hannay who is determined to give London just one more day to hold his interest before he leaves for a more exciting alternative abroad. Richard, however, gets way more than he bargained for when a new American acquaintance is murdered in Hannays flat just a few days after the pair meet. Realising he is now likely the main target of the group who assassinated his new friend, and realising he will be the police forces main suspect for the murder, Richard takes off on the run around Scotland.Richard is given very little characterization or development, he has no personality and the novel focuses on what happens to him, instead of who he is, why he acts in a particular way, or what he cares about - apart from the desire to avoid capture by the police or the assassins. Though he is being chased by two groups who either want to kill him or lock him up, I got no sense of his fear, desperation or urgency. The novel lacked emotion and I felt like I could be reading a cold, uncaring police report of events, rather than a first-hand account of them. This whole mess seemed like a little inconvenience in Richard Hannays life, not something that was a real danger to him.Most of all, it was boring. The conclusion wasnt satisfying enough to be worth putting up with the sequence of boring events for. I think this review says a lot about the novels plot: He runs around in the fields. A lot. He hides in this field. He hides in that field. Some shadowy figures close in, and off he goes, running again. An excellent and accurate summary, in my opinion.

Architecture

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