Thursday, June 15, 2017

6/15/191? An assassination is planned

June 15, 191?.  This is the planned date for the assassination whose prevention is the McGuffin that fuels John Buchan's first novel, The Thirty-nine Steps.

Jason Worden argued that Buchan actually invented a new subgenre: the story in which a civilian gets chased both by the bad guys, AND by the police who think he is the bad guy.  That paranoia made it perfect for Alfred Hitchcock, who not only filmed The Thirty-nine Steps, but used a similar plot in two other movies.

Buchan, by the way, went on to write a bunch of other novels. He was also one of the top figures in British Intelligence during the First World War.  Then he became the Governor General of Canada.  Not a bad resume for a thriller writer.

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