This is Buchan's fourth novel featuring Richard Hannay, hero of The Thirty-Nine Steps, and if you can pretend you are a somewhat naive reader in the 1920s and just sit back and enjoy the ride as if it were an old movie serial, you'll probably enjoy it very much. The story is set after World War I, with Hannay settled down, married and with a son. Manipulative evil still prowls the world, however, and Hannay's old spy boss Bullivant calls him out of retirement to deal with one threat in particular. As you can guess from the title, there is hostage-taking -- three times over -- and enigmatic clues to decipher and underlings to ferret out. Espionage jack-of-all-trades Sandy Arbuthnot is in on the action, as is Hannay's wife Mary, and an old wartime acquaintance of Hannay's makes an appearance as well. Admittedly, portions are melodramatic and hokey by today's standards, but it's still a rollicking good read, right up to the final confrontation between Hannay and his nemesis du jour.