An Ongoing Exploration into the Many Worlds of Early 20th-Century Escapist Literature

An Ongoing Exploration into the Many Worlds of Early 20th-Century Escapist Literature -- Crime and Adventure, Fantasy and Science-Fiction, Horror and Weird

Monday, November 18, 2013

Rogue Male -- Geoffrey Household (1939)

Hello readers, Bill here, taking (as I said I would) a break from The Big Book of Adventure Stories.  Finding it easier and more convenient to read on my Kindle while my girlfriend was asleep during this past weekend (not to mention less likely to wake her) then to pull out The Big Book, I took the time to read Geoffrey Household's classic novel Rogue Male, having downloaded it for my Kindle on the recommendation of Sai S over at Pulp Flakes.  It quickly proved to be worth far more than the pittance I paid for it on Amazon, but I feel like I'm getting ahead of myself here.  Let's take a look at the book itself!

Our narrator, an unnamed British sportsman and big-game hunter of undefined social standing but circulating in the some of the highest of London's social circles, decides to take a trip into Central Europe, Poland and surrounding environs, for a little light hunting.  While there, he decides to take a detour into an unnamed country currently in the thrall of a totalitarian dictator (which is totally NOT Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler, wink wink nudge nudge) for a little bit stronger a diversion; to see if it's possible to use his hunting skills to get close enough to the dictator to get him in his crosshairs.  He has no intention of shooting the dictator; just a little sporting stalk.

Immediately after centering his crosshairs over the dictator's chest, our narrator is found and beaten into submission by the dictator's bodyguards and secret police.  Finding his story that he was just pointing a gun at Hitler to see if he could a bit unbelievable, our narrator is tortured and the decision is made to throw him off a cliff and make his death look like an accident.

Surviving the fall but with one eye and both hands ruined, our narrator begins to slowly work his way to safety, pursued across Europe and even into the heart of England by the Gestapo.  Much like the fox fleeing the huntsman's hounds, our narrator is forced to go to ground quite literally, burrowing into the earth to hide from his pursuers.

Effectively buried alive, he contemplates the events that have brought him to this point, and realizes that ultimately he did intend to pull the trigger and end Hitler's life.  Emboldened by this revelation, he steels himself to fight back against his oppressors...

Rogue Male was exactly what I needed after an absolutely hellish week at work (that may be spilling over into this week as well).  The writing is light and airy, and easy on my tired brain after a long day at the office. This lightness is deceptive, however; the book is tightly plotted and the tension is so thick you could cut it with a hatchet.  The book absolutely grips the reader and holds them, spellbound, as the narrator's nerves are stretched to the breaking point and beyond.  Truth be told, the only thing that compelled me to put the book down at all was being too exhausted to focus my eyes on the words.  Were this a weekend where I'd had no other obligations, I think I would have sat down and read the entire thing on a Saturday afternoon.

Check out Rogue Male.  Seriously, it's just that good.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    Good to hear that you enjoyed the book. Finding new readers for forgotten authors and books makes the time i spend blogging worthwhile.

    You might also enjoy The Big Clock by Kenneth Fearing.

    Unfortunately unavailable as an ebook.