Friday, April 19, 2013
The Evolution of the Mystery Genre
Thirty-Nine Steps, published in 1915, is one of the earliest examples of the 'man-on-the-run' thriller archetype subsequently adopted by Hollywood as an often-used plot device. Also a forerunner of the James Bond spy who escapes every unbelievable attemp to twart his mission. In The Thirty-Nine Steps, Buchan holds up Richard Hannay as an example to his readers of an ordinary man who puts his country’s interests before his own safety. The story was a great success with the men in the First World War trenches.
Richard Hannay continued his adventures in four subsequent books. Two were set during the war when Hannay continued his undercover work against the Germans and their allies the Turks in Greenmantle and Mr Standfast. The other two stories, The Three Hostages and The Island of Sheep were set in the post war period when Hannay's opponents were criminal gangs.
The Thirty-Nine Steps became a classic movie directed by Alfred Hichcock in 1939 and the novel was listed as #22 on the Top 100 Mysteries of A1l Time by the Mystery Writers of American.