Customer Review

193 of 193 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an omnibus edition of classic page-turning suspense, 4 May 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Complete Richard Hannay: "The Thirty-Nine Steps","Greenmantle","Mr Standfast","The Three Hostages","The Island of Sheep" (Paperback)
As its title suggests, this edition brings together in one volume all the adventures of John Buchan's hero, from his first appearance in The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915) to his swan-song in The Island of Sheep (1936). Here is the perfect book for those who may have met Richard Hannay in his first and most famous outing - either in print or in Hitchcock's famous movie - and would like to follow his subsequent adventures. The Thirty-Nine Steps is often regarded as the first modern spy story (with the possible exception of Erskine Childers' The Riddle of the Sands - also worth a look), and its breathless pace as its narrator is first pursued by and then pursues a network of German spies against the backdrop of the First World War, remains as effective today as when it was written. The two following books in the series, Greenmantle (1916)and Mr Standfast (1919) also pit Hannay against the might of the Kaiser (he even meets him on one occasion while posing as a pro-German Boer...), taking him across Europe and the Near East. We are also intoduced to his comrades-in-arms: multi-lingual Scottish laird and master of disguise, Sandy Arbuthnot; larger-than-life American industrialist Blenkiron; and Hannay's future wife, the feisty Mary Lamington. The final two books, The Three Hostages (1924) and the Island of Sheep are set after the War, mainly in Britain, and Hannay's adversaries this time are master criminals rather than spies, but the page-turning suspense is every bit as intense, as Hannay races against the clock to bring the malefactors to book... Hannay is a very likeable hero, more complex than the "stiff upper lip" stereotype might suggest. In many ways, he resembles the central characters of Dick Francis's racing thrillers. Like them, Hannay is no intellectual, but he is highly intelligent and has a healthy disrespect for gung-ho heroics. He is, moreover, a perceptive observer of the natural world, and brings a wry - and infectious - sense of humour to his study of human foibles. All in all, John Buchan's "shockers" (as their author called his Hannay stories) deserve a much wider audience and this Penguin omnibus edition is thus to be applauded.
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