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I have recently been getting into Gollanz's collection of books under the banner of 'Crime Masterworks'. This is the second title I have read after The Getaway in this series after getting into their Sci-Fi and Fantasy Masterworks series. Rogue Male was cheap in my local charity shop so I thought I would give it a go.
Rogue Male is about an unnamed British man who goes to Europe and attempts to murder a Fascist dictator - here obviously modelled on Adolf Hitler. He doesn't kill him though - merely gets him in his sights like hunting a deer. He is caught however before he can prove his innocence and is tortured and thrown from a cliff. He survives and manages to get himself back to England. After realising that he can no longer stay in London, he escapes to Dorset and lives like a wild animal underground with the animals. He is constantly hunted by his torturers and he plays a game of cat and mouse with his hunters. But will his nightmare ever end?
Geoffrey Household wrote Rogue Male in 1939 and obviously targeted his European setting on the Fascist regime of the Nazis. His unnamed hunter is a sportsman at heart, but he is also a survivor. Although he is a gentleman, he goes through some pretty tough situations, especially when living in an underground bunker.
Its an easy read, coming in at less that 200 pages, but it moves along very quickly and although written seventy years ago is more like a Bourne film than you might think. I especially enjoyed the setting of the film because I am quite familiar with the landscape of Dorset. Lyme Regis and Bridport are the main settings for the latter part of the film and are described very well.
I thoroughly enjoyed Rogue Male, it was a cracking read and surprisingly modern. Like The Getaway, Rogue Male has been made into two films since being written. I had no idea of this, but the excellent Peter O'Toole stars in one of them - one to try and track down then!
I have read on the internet that David Morrell's 'First Blood' novel (later made into a Rambo film with Sly Stallone) was hugely influenced by Rogue Male, and you can certainly see the similarities as you read the book.
I highly recommend Rogue Male for anyone interested in crime fiction and a very British sense of 'stiff upper lips'.