Thursday, July 25, 2013

Rogue Male (1939)


Another book that always shows up in lists of the greatest mystery novels of all time. It was hard to find, but I got a used copy and checked it out. The book is in the man-on-the-run genre. An English aristocrat (we never learn his name) is hunting in a foreign country (almost certainly Germany) and decides to see if he can stalk and kill a dictator (Hitler). He almost succeeds but is caught, tortured, and left for dead. All of this, by the way, is in the first few pages of the book. After that, he is on the run across Europe and then back in England, where he literally goes to ground, creating a burrow where he lives.


This is one strange book, but completely compelling, especially the sequence in Dorset, where the narrator creates his hidey-hole. Beautiful descriptions of the landscape combined with a genuine sense of what it feels like to be hunted. A classic for a reason.

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