An espionage thriller that has been called the first great spy novel, it has sustained its popularity, being embraced by each new generation.
The first in a series of five audiobooks it features the spy Richard Hannay, an action hero with a stiff upper lip who gets caught up in a dangerous race against a plot by German spies to destroy the British war effort.
When Richard Hannay offers sanctuary to an American agent seeking his help in stopping a political assassination, he takes the first step on a trail of peril, murder, and espionage. Days later the agent's murdered body turns up in Hannay's flat, making him the prime suspect.
Knowing he's next he goes into hiding in Scotland, but in his possession is the American agent's little black book that holds the key to the conspiracy. On the run from both the police and members of a mysterious organisation that will stop at nothing to keep their secrets hidden, the book has become one of the most influential chase books, adopted by many, including Hollywood, but with an unrivalled tension.
The novel has been the basis for many adaptations although most have departed from the text. Most famous is Alfred Hitchcock's classic film The 39 Steps released in 1935.
Robert Powell received his first starring role in The Italian Job (1969) and is best known for the title role in the television series Jesus of Nazareth (1977). He received Best Actor awards for his performances in Imperativ (1982) and Harlequin (1980). His television career has included appearing in BBC One's Holby City (2005-2011) and the "science-fact" drama Doomwatch (1970) as well as starring alongside Jasper Carrott in the sitcom The Detectives (1993-1997). He has a distinctive voice that has narrated documentaries including World War II in HD Colour, Hitler's Bodyguard, The Story of the Third Reich and Secrets of World War II. In 2013 he narrated the dramatic television series The Bible. He has narrated many fictional and historical audiobooks including Rebecca's Tale, The Well-Beloved and The Thirty-Nine Steps.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Harold on 10-06-08
Exiting thriller, with insights into a bygone era.
The language and certain phrases used can now appear a little old fashioned (even to someone in their late 50's!) but this does not detract from a cracking story, that is well read. If you enjoyed the Robert Donat film (1935) you will like this book, it is of a similar style and reflects attitudes and a period long since gone - servants, milk deliveries and many other examples. The recording, although unabridged, is short enough to be listened to in a couple of sittings which also adds to the pleasure. Recommended!
25 of 26 people found this review helpful
By Alan on 23-02-09
Great to revisit
I first read this about 25 years ago, when I was in my teens. It was the recent TV version with Rupert Penry-Jones as Richard Hannay that inspired me to download and listen to the proper book again and I was very glad that I did. It evokes the era very well and is written in rather a literary style compared to more modern spy novelists and, for me, that added to the enjoyment of the tale. The narrator had the perfect accent for it.
I'm sure that most if not all of you who are reading this review will be familiar with the story. If you haven't read it, you really ought to, and if you have, this audio version is a great way of revisiting the novel. I finished listening to this whilst sitting in my living room with the coal fire burning and the lights dimmed and it was definitely a moment. Its length makes it easily digestible in a couple of sittings so it's a great choice for when your credits are starting to pile up after having had long audible listens for a couple of months.
17 of 18 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Ian on 28-07-11
Way different to the movies
This is a classic adventure story of its day, very well read by Robert Powell. It is dated, but quite enjoyable still if you regard it as a period piece. I was expecting it to be very similar to the original Alfred Hitchcock movie made in England in 1935, but the movie only bears a superficial resemblance to the book. Even the significance of the '39 Steps' title is completely different between the book and movie. A good 'read' nevertheless.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
By Colin R. on 03-04-16
Brilliant Narration of a Classic!
Exceptional story telling of a well scripted novel. Evil is so poignantly described in that it is scarcely noticeable to the eye of the average onlooker. The protagonist doesn't miss a detail!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful