The Thirty-One Kings: A Richard Hannay Thriller

Pegasus. Sept. 2018. 256p. ISBN 9781681778549. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781681779195. M
It's 1940, and there's a war on. A pilot's enigmatic dying words about "London trails…latest Dickens…missing pages…" trigger a frenetic search for the elusive 31 kings. That's more than enough to nudge Richard Hannay out of what would seem a well-deserved retirement more than 100 years after his introduction in John Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915) and 83 years after Hitchcock's classic screen adaptation of 1935. Harris is obviously familiar with all earlier incarnations, but this can stand on its own sturdy legs. The resurrected Hannay is thrust into a world teetering on disaster as Paris is on the brink of capitulation, and only he and the Die-Hards, a ragtag assortment of Glasgow patriots, can hope to prevent it. Have you been feeling as skittish as a kitten in a room full of rocking chairs lately? Help is at hand. This tale of derring-do featuring a bang-up battle against the diabolical Boche can soothe those jimjams.
VERDICT Following last year's successful films Dunkirk and Darkest Hour, this novel offers a similar escape into a cushy featherbed of certitudes where steely goodhearted lads square off against evil. Exhibit A for anyone complaining they don't write them like that anymore.
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