Friday, April 18, 2008

Book Review: The Three Hostages by John Buchan

The Three Hostages is another instalment in the adventures of Richard Hannay, the hero of Buchan’s most famous novel, "The Thirty-nine Steps" and it employs a similarly fast pace. Sir Richard Hannay reluctantly comes out of retirement to help find three hostages held by a gang of international villains intent on financial and political gain. The story revolves around the mental battle between Hannay and the story’s villain, Dominick Medina – a charismatic and deceiving Member of Parliament.

The Three Hostages is a fast-paced, plot-driven novel of adventure and intrigue, but one with some interesting and mysterious characters. The style of writing and the structure of this story, with cliff-hanger endings to chapters and moving from The Cotswolds to London to the Highlands of Scotland via Norway make it seem at times that it was written in order to make a movie from it, but unlike many similar, modern novels, the author uses a written style that does not patronise the reader nor becomes repetitive.

The Three Hostages was one of those books that made me keep turning the pages, however, similarly to many such books, I found the ending slightly disappointing, but only in how quickly it was dealt with and not in terms of the events. Whilst there is something of a detective novel hidden amongst the adventure and mind games, I found the riddle surrounding the identity of the final hostage rather predictable whilst it seemed to remain a mystery to the main character right until the end. These small issues aside, this is a well-written yarn that quickly enthrals the reader.


Those that enjoyed the "Thirty-nine Steps" and similar fast-paced, plot-driven novels will enjoy this book but some people may find some of the language used rather politically incorrect, although it reflects the attitudes of the time.

Score: 8.5/10

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