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on 22 March 2003
One of my favourite stories of all time - a book that gets better with each re-reading. A 'Boys Own' story in terms of plot but a closer/re-reading reveals an intensely psychological aspect. Inspiration for Fritz Langs film 'Man Hunt', Rogue Male provides the kind of story line Alfred Hitchcock would have loved!
Rogue Male tells the story of an anonymous English Aristocrat who is accused of trying to assasinate an European Dictator - he is captured, tortured - but incredibly survives. There then emerges a classic story of escape with hunter becoming the hunted. From Europe to the south of England the hero is literally forced to go to ground as his nemesis Major Quive-Smith gets closer and closer...
I love it! Just writing this review makes me want to read it again. This is a must try book which in my opinion, surpasses The 39 Steps.
Trying to be balanced,I have read reviews where critics find the plotting sometimes stretches the imagination a bit too much and some people are annoyed by the central character's aristocratic tendencies - but personally I disagree /don't care respectfully.
This book is a forgotten classic and a must read for anyone who enjoys Escape and Survival Stories. Give it a try!
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on 12 August 2001
Rogue Male is the one book that I keep on coming back to - and each time I marvel at its perfection. It is perfectly written-not a word wasted. Intelligently formed,fascinating and containing a hidden depth that only becomes evident on repeat readings. Ladies and Gentlemen Rogue Male is the greatest thriller ever written. One of my all-time favoutite books and the one I would take to a desert Island and the one that I wish I had the writing skills to equal.

Rogue Male tells the story of a British Sportsman/Hunter who dares to attempt the perfect stalk - the assassination of a European dictator. Though never named (neither suspected hero assassin or potential victim)the European dictator is most likely to be Adolf Hitler. Captured,tortured and left for dead, the unamed hero must escape almost certain death and make his way back to England. Barely able to walk, his face disfigured and hands barely usable, this will be an almost impossible task - the odds overwhelming. Our hero's basic survival instincts come into play and in so many ways civilised man has to give way to the beast lurking within in order to survive.

For a relativlely short book. Rogue Male is epic in scope - covering escape across Europe and search and evasion in London and the English countryside. The hero is resourceful,intelligent and shrewd. He is moral and speaks with integrity. He is pushed to the limits but though he can only survive by trusting his inate animal instincts he nonetheless retains his humanity and re-discovers his true sense of purpose.

When I read this book as a teenager I initially found it slow and had to read the first 5-10 pages a few times to get into it. Then I was hooked (I got into it)and from the day I finished this book I thereafter became an avid reader and having read hundreds and hundreds of books since I still often dream of finding the 'next Rogue Male'.

Gripping, exciting and very believable. Probably the greatest thriller ever written - in my opinion much better than the also very good, Thirty Nine Steps by John Buchan. If you like 39 steps you will see many parallels in Rogue Male - only less coincidences, each escapade relies on the hero's tact, intelligence and sheer determination.

The book has a sequel called 'Rogue Justice'which makes interesting reading - though is in my opinion not quite in the same class (Geoffrey Household wrote Rogue Justice when he was nigh on 80, so it was quite a long time after).

There are some audio versions available of both rogue Male and Rogue Justice - Michael Jayston's reading is outstanding and in my view the best though only available at the moment from Radio 7 IPlayer where it gets played from time to time or on Torrent (whatever that is- no idea how to access that safly) - so no audio cd yet. Please BBC have a heart and release it - it is almost criminal the audio version is so hard to obtain for such a classic story.

Geoffrey Household has written other great books and some mediocre. For those who enjoy the writers style and wish to explore other works with a similar feel to Rogue Male then I offer the following personal reccomendations:
*****Dance of the Dwarfs - close also to perfection, a hunter/hunted theme but with a horror, almost supernatural feel and brilliantly told
**** Watcher in the Shadows - a concentration camp survivor goes on a killing spree but targets an innocent man
**** The Sending - hunter theme with a supernatural theme
**** Fellow Passenger - picaresque adventures (reminded me of Kind Hearts and Coronets) - almost slapstick, light and fun (Household's favourite book according to his 1950s biography Against the Wind - though he went on to write many more great stories
***Rough Shoot and Time to Kill - reasonable thrillers (Rogue Male-like but without the depth)
**** Rogue Justice

Anyway, the above books will give you a taste of the man if you wish to pursue Geoffrey Household's fiction further.

Some of these books should be back in print - especially Dance of the Dwarfs, so I hope Geoffrey Household's literary agent and estate are doing their bit to push his work to a modern audience. If not then give me the job - the world is a better place for the work of Geoffrey Household and his books deserve never to be forgotten.

In short - Rogue Male is a masterpiece of a thriller - Boy's Own Adventure par excellence and if the above sounds remotely interesting you should give it a try!

(... though in saying all this the wife thinks it is boring, so I guess it is not for everyone)

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on 13 July 2009
I love 'The Bourne Identity'. I love 'A Perfect Spy', but there is something about this classic English thriller that draws me back to it every 10 years or so and captivates me just as it did when I first read it as a 12 year old in English class at school.

Household really takes us inside the characters' mind and the complexities that exist within the troubled hero.
This is a great chase thriller, better in my opinion than the more well known 'The Thirty Nine Steps'It captures time and character perfectly and is quintescentially 'English'. I love the way the un-named hero reveals his emotions and depth of feeling. I like the fact that there is very little dialogue.
The landscape is incredibly vivid. The pace superb, especially from the underground station section onwards.
This novel is always a pleasure to read and reveals more layers to the story on each occasion.
The 'template' for many great thrillers that followed, but still the most original and best.
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on 22 March 2004
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.
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on 31 July 2003
For anyone who loves the feeling of being totally immersed in a book then this is for you. Although written over 60 years ago it hasn't dated and it's storyline rattles along drawing you in. The hunted man trying to evade capture, the reversion to his basic instincts to survive and his psychological trials make this page-turner a classic. Not to be missed.
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on 3 July 2009
"Rogue Male" is rather like "The Day of the Jackal" meets "The 39 Steps". It is the story of an aristocratic Englishman who attempts to assassinate the dictator of a European country just before the Second World War. His captured and tortured but escapes. The story follows his escape back to England and the subsequent hunt by foreign agents and the police.

The book is gripping throughout. We are plunged straight into the story (well, actually, the story has already started without us) with no boring pre-amble - a modern device considering the book's age. But this is not simply an adventure - this is an examination of man's basic nature as both hunter and hunted. The psychological aspect is well-handled and thoughtfully written.

Geoffrey Household can convey an atmosphere - both the physical surroundings and his hero's inner state - superbly. The latter scenes of the book are not recommended for claustrophics or the squeamish. Without spoiling the plot, I will just make reference to "101 uses for a Dead Cat".

"Rogue Male" is recommended to anyone who enjoys thrillers and adventure, either from the Buchan school or from more recent authors.
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VINE VOICEon 11 April 2009
Only a 'change in wind' causes a change in history as our nameless but'somewhat famous' narrator hesitates on the trigger and any of Hitler/Stalin/nasty dictator survives. At times this is like Ray Mears meets the Jackal in a story told in an 'exercise book' with a 'letter' postcript.

It starts off in a military,clipped style which relents through the chase and incarceration. It has a heavy class theme but not in the normal sense. The narrator sees himself as belonging to 'special Class X' which has qualities possessed by an elite. Note that he specifically derides the aristocracy for failing to have 'X'. It seems to imply a sort of forerunner of SAS training with a supreme moral fibre. How intriguing that the narrator refers to his elite as 'the few' given events only one year after publication?

It is a great story, quite bitter at times. His motivation is only revealed at the very end where he also reveals he will attempt assassination again even though he knows it will cost him his life.

It is a cracking,nail-biting thriller, highly unusual for its 1939 issue.
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on 20 June 2008
I first saw a TV prorgramme based on this book when I was turning teenager and it left a very strong impression. I only ever read a dog-eaed, abandoned copy when in my early twenties, and it still sticks in my memory two decades later as one of the best ten novels Ive ever read. Maybe, like Conrad, just for the boys, but all boys and men should read this....
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on 29 December 2001
Initially I was expecting a more macho/gritty rendition of the story - but come on! The narrator is supposed to be an English 'gentleman' so really the narrator is extremely apt. After 5min of listening to the tape I was totally absorbed and am so grateful to have an audio copy of this most brilliant story. If you want to listen to an exciting thriller-set in the thirties about a failed attempt to assasinate Adolf Hitler-then I do strongly advise you to give this version a try (while stocks last).
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on 16 December 1999
Following an attempt to assassinate Hitler, the books' character is pursued relentlessly throughout Europe and eventually into the British countryside by German agents posing as English gents.
This is an extremely tense and atmospheric story. Environments and situations are skilfully recreated to give an immense amount of reader enjoyment. A first class read
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