Ten years ago, British publishers Orion Books produced a new imprint of classics under the label ‘crime masterworks’. The published list of forty seven titles is impressive, and as good a place as any to start a comprehensive journey through many great books, such as ‘The Maltese Falcon’, ‘The Postman Always Rings Twice’, ‘Double Indemnity’ and ‘Midnight Plus One’. There’s a list of all the available books here.
One of the finest books in the series is ‘Rogue Male’ by Geoffrey Household, a threshold-of-war 1930s thriller in the style of the Thirty Nine Steps, and a book I could not recommend highly enough. The book was made into a film in 1976 starring Peter O’Toole, Alastair Sim, John Standing and Harold Pinter.
Rogue Male has been described as one of the classic thrillers of the 20th Century, in which an Englishman plans to assassinate the dictator of a European country (a thinly veiled Germany); however he is foiled at the last moment and falls into the hands of ruthless and inventive torturers. They devise for him an ingenious and diplomatic death but, for once, they bungle the job and he escapes. Despite escaping from continental Europe back to England, the unnamed aristocratic hero finds no safety from his pursuers and begins an enthralling life on the run, surviving in the wilds on his wits alone. It’s a brilliant read, ideal for those in bed with a cold!
Geoffrey Household was a prolific English author of the early 20th century who wrote over thirty five novels and short story collections; however it is Rogue Male for which he is best remembered today. You can pick up a copy here.