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Perhaps more than any other book The Thirty-Nine Steps has set the pattern for the story of the chase for a wanted man. And, of the many writers who have attempted this kind of thing since Buchan, only a very few, like Graham Greene, have managed to sustain the tension in the same way. The main character is Buchan's familiar hero, Richard Hannay who gets caught up quite suddenly on a dull London afternoon in a situation of extreme danger. Before he knows what is happening he is the obvious suspect for a murder committed in his own flat, and has to go on the run to his native Scotland.
John Buchan (1875-1940) was born in Perth, Scotland and educated at Oxford where he published five books and won several awards, including one for poetry. He went on to be a barrister, a member of parliament, a soldier, a publisher, a historical biographer, and - in 1935 - he became the Govenor-General of Canada. Today he is best remembered as the author of his perennially popular adventure novels.