Three Hostages Paperback – Jan 1 1953
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From Library Journal
This early (1924) spy adventure is one of five Buchan novels featuring the heroic Richard Hannay. Hannay is called out of retirement to rescue the kidnapped offspring of three highly placed British citizens. Hannay soon uncovers a global syndicate supporting a single man who has notions of world domination. The story suffers from exaggerated descriptions of its characters. For instance, the kidnapper, Medina, is not just a good shot, he's the best shot in England next to the King. The British are portrayed as wonderful people, but other races fare less well. Yet the story is undoubtedly good fun and is enhanced by the modulated voice and subtle characterizations of British actor Edmund Dehn. For large suspense collections.
Mark Pumphrey, Polk Cty. P.L., Columbus, N.C.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
'Between Kipling and Fleming stands John Buchan … the father of the modern spy thriller.' (Christopher Hitchens) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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I enjoyed especially the respectful portrait of Hannay's wife, every bit as smart and tough as he -- quite surprising in an era (and culture) that I had assumed would be somewhat chauvinistic -- and a real relief from other spy stories in which the women simply scream helplessly until The Man comes along. Mind you, I have no political agenda -- and indeed am quite conservative about gender roles; but I just find it so much more sensible and realistic when women characters act like human beings!
"Hostages" is also remarkably prescient about the onset of WW2, and how Hitler would try to rule the world not merely through brute force but through propaganda and mass hysteria. There is also some fine thematic development here, esp. the notion that a spy mission may achieve "success" without "victory."
But the best thing about the book is its final chapter; as in "Standfast," "Hostages" has a split climax; the main conflict is resolved about 35 pages before the end of the book, and then there's a further, more nitty-gritty, down-to-earth duel at the end. Fantastic!
These books are great for folks looking for good old-fashioned adventure like James Bond, but without the girls and the violence.
Some of the plot points feel unlikely to a modern reader, but overall it's an enjoyable ride.