Rogue Male, By Geoffrey Household

 

This 1939 novel, a clear precursor of Fleming and Forsyth, is much more than a first-class thriller. As Robert Macfarlane's preface argues, it is a "stone-cold classic".

Our hero, a hunting toff, has almost assassinated the (unnamed) Hitler. After torture, his flight from the (unnamed) Gestapo takes him back to England, and deepest Dorset, mystically evoked.

His dry stoicism hides trauma. Nail-biting, boldly plotted, the pursuit reveals it. A mesmeric climax anticipates post-war existential fiction. By any standards: a masterpiece.

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