Thursday, March 10, 2011




Often discussed as the link between John Buchan (The 39 steps) style adventures and the japes of James Bond, Rouge Male by Geoffrey Household is a rip roaring tale of a man for whom principle has more meaning than patriotism. Like Eric Ambler, Household moved beyond the simplistic good versus evil and marched the thriller squarely into the gray areas where LeCarre and others would make their future stomping grounds.


The narrator takes it upon himself to stalk - in the manner of a big game hunt - a human prey, a man guarded by the best in the land, a man with a vested interest in keeping himself out of the sights of any assassin. With the dictator in his sights our hero is apprehended and tortured almost to the point of death. Left to fall from a cliff to an apparently accidentally death he cheats fate by landing in a bog.

Here begins his flight to freedom. But what kind of freedom? Even back in his native England he is hunted down by the agents of the dictator - forced to become an outlaw now wanted for actual murder after he finishes off one of his foreign pursuers in the bowels of the London Underground.

In Rogue Male, Geoffrey Household has written an adventure thriller which has yet to be bettered . . .

Rouge Male brings meaning back to the term nail-biter. It’s storyline is simple yet filled with imaginative set pieces. The 1939 novel, published a few scant months before WWII, was first made into a 1941 Fritz Lang film called Man Hunt, and later into a terrific BBC tele-movie starring Peter O’Toole.

Described by Household himself as a “bastard offspring of Stevenson and Conrad,” Rogue Male is a classic thriller and a triumph of suspense – exploring the lure of violence, the psychology of survival, and the call of the wild.


Bill Crider said...

I read a number of Household books years ago. This was my favorite.

Evan Lewis said...

I read this when I was twelve years old while drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. Ah, fond memories.

George said...

I read ROGUE MALE! when I was a kid and never forgot it. I enjoyed reading all of Household's novels, but ROGUE MALE! is something special.

bv said...

Definitely one to track down (minus the cigarettes and beer -- dang the allergies and asthma!). I'll also see if Netflix has the O'Toole flick, but I'm not holding my breath on that one.

Paul D. Brazill said...

Great choice. One of the few books that was made to read at school and liked. And the O'Toole series was great.