Rogue Male is a classic adventure story. The hero is a hunter who sets himself the sporting challenge of stalking the greatest quarry in the world, Adolf Hitler. But he soon finds himself hunted and cornered, enduring torture and then a horrible and claustrophobic live burial. I won’t reveal how he escapes his entombment, or how his true motives are finally explained, but for pace, plot and subtlety, this is the greatest thriller of its period. Rogue Male also charts a deep change in how the English perceive themselves: this island nation, plucky, sporting, self-effacing and eccentric, is once again dragged reluctantly into Europe and forced to engage on other peoples’ terms, this time never to return to its pre-war state.
Household continued the tradition of great thriller writers like Erskine Childers and John Buchan, but he had a fluency and lightness of style that set him apart, and in this sense he forms a bridge to a new generation of writers like Graham Greene who were able to write readable thrillers that also pass muster as serious literature.
This is an exciting and very enjoyable book.