The Thirty-Nine Steps

By John Buchan
Read by Frederick Davidson

The Richard Hannay Series: Book 1

3.88 Hours 05/01/1994 unabridged
Format:
  • Regular Price: $11.95

    Special Price $9.56

    or 1 Credit

    ISBN: 9781455171033

  • $5.95

    ISBN: 9781482107944

  • $19.95

    ISBN: 9781441781161

  • $19.95

    ISBN: 9781441781178

Perhaps more than any other book The Thirty-Nine Steps has set the pattern for the story of the chase for a wanted man. And, of the many writers who have attempted this kind of thing since Buchan, only a very few, like Graham Greene, have managed to sustain the tension in the same way. The story’s extended chase scene inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s movie of the same name. The Thirty-Nine Steps, Buchan’s best-known thriller, introduces his most enduring hero, Richard Hannay—who, despite claiming to be an “ordinary fellow,” is caught up in a dangerous race against a plot to devastate the British war effort. It begins calmly enough with a rather boring trip to London. Returning to his flat, Richard is shocked to find his neighbor dead on the floor with a knife in his back. Near the deceased is a small black notebook containing cryptic notes about the “thirty-nine steps” and a black stone. As the situation escalates, Hannay is mistaken for a secret agent by the police. Now he must run for his life across the Scottish highlands, thinking his way through narrow escapes while trying to decode the thirty-nine steps. With wit and flair, this old-fashioned roller coaster ride offers soaring suspense with a comic touch.

Learn More
Membership Details
  • Only $12.99/month gets you 1 Credit/month
  • Cancel anytime
  • Hate a book? Then we do too, and we'll exchange it.
See how it works in 15 seconds

Summary

Summary

Perhaps more than any other book The Thirty-Nine Steps has set the pattern for the story of the chase for a wanted man. And, of the many writers who have attempted this kind of thing since Buchan, only a very few, like Graham Greene, have managed to sustain the tension in the same way. The story’s extended chase scene inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s movie of the same name.

The Thirty-Nine Steps, Buchan’s best-known thriller, introduces his most enduring hero, Richard Hannay—who, despite claiming to be an “ordinary fellow,” is caught up in a dangerous race against a plot to devastate the British war effort.

It begins calmly enough with a rather boring trip to London. Returning to his flat, Richard is shocked to find his neighbor dead on the floor with a knife in his back. Near the deceased is a small black notebook containing cryptic notes about the “thirty-nine steps” and a black stone. As the situation escalates, Hannay is mistaken for a secret agent by the police. Now he must run for his life across the Scottish highlands, thinking his way through narrow escapes while trying to decode the thirty-nine steps.

With wit and flair, this old-fashioned roller coaster ride offers soaring suspense with a comic touch.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“It is the dimension of the mysterious that makes Buchan’s writing so unfailingly compelling.” John Keegan, author of A History of Warfare
“Frederick Davidson’s voice is properly sardonic, and his supercilious British articulation is just right. The story’s extended chase scene inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s movie of the same name.” AudioFile 
“It is just the kind of fiction for here. One wants something to engross the attention without tiring the mind. The story is greatly appreciated in the midst of mud and rain and shells, and all that could make trench life depressing.” An officer on the front in World War I
“Buchan’s technique as a writer is simple enough and well displayed in The Thirty-Nine Steps. He understood that in a thriller…what matters above all is to keep the reader focused on what is going to happen next…It doesn’t matter that the reader has no clue where he is being taken or, when he gets there, how the thing happened as it did. All that matters is that once you’ve started, you can’t put the book down.” Telegraph (London)
“Buchan essentially invented the espionage novel with his Richard Hannay yarns.” Library Journal

Reviews

Reviews

by Bertie Wooster 9/13/2017
Overall Performance
Narration
Story

The Original. Accept No Substitutes.

Discovering the source of a genre is like discovering the source of a river. Well, at least I suppose it is. I haven’t actually discovered the source of any river myself, but I’m betting the first thing one says is, “So, that’s where all that water is coming from!”

In the same way, to listen to The 39 Steps was to discover where we got the man-who-knew-too-much storyline, the ordinary-citizen-caught-in-extraordinary-circumstances trope, and the oh-no-the-hero-just-walked-straight-into-the-lair-of-his-nemesis plot twist. The 39 Steps is where, so to speak, all that water came from.

And not bad water, either. John Buchan was many things in his life: politician, diplomat, journalist, Governor General of Canada and a peer of the realm. We’re lucky he also found the time to be an author. The 39 Steps is a sheer pleasure to listen to, an audiobook that made me hate to unhitch the ear buds. In his brief dedication Buchan himself identifies what it is about his story—an “elementary type of tale…the romance where the incidents defy the probabilities and march just inside the borders of the probable”—that make it so irresistible. And, while the genre of the Dime Novel (or “Shocker” in Britain) was well established by the time Buchan started, he wrote the ones we remember, reprint, make the basis of new plays, novels and movies, and record as audiobooks.

As always, Frederick Davidson is superb. His bored, self-deprecating, dubious tone of the man who can’t quite bring himself to believe all this is really happening is perfect. As conviction grows on our hero, Davidson makes it grow on the listener, too. And all the other characters, from Scotsmen to Frenchmen, are spot-on.

Thanks to Downpour for making this available at a great price for Halloween.

Author

Author Bio: John Buchan

John Buchan (1875–1940) was educated at Glasgow University and Brasenose College, Oxford. He became a barrister, Member of Parliament, soldier, publisher, and Governor-General of Canada. Of the over one hundred books he published during his lifetime, he is best remembered for his adventure and spy stories, especially The Thirty-Nine Steps, which was made into a movie by Alfred Hitchcock.

Titles by Author

See All

Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Fiction/Mystery & Detective
Runtime: 3.88
Audience: Adult
Language: English