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Publisher's Summary

Among the first espionage thrillers and an acknowledged classic, The Thirty-Nine Steps well deserves its accolades as one of the best adventure stories of all time. Leaving aside the improbable denouement, the fast paced, brilliantly conceived narrative still excites and carries one along with the sheer suspense of the manhunt - a recurring theme in literature - and Hannay’s struggle against the evil that is the ‘Black Stone'.

May 1914: Europe is close to war and spies are everywhere. Richard Hannay has arrived back in London to begin a new life, when a spy called Scudder asks for help to uncover a German plot to murder the Greek prime minister in London and to steal British plans for the outbreak of war. He claims to be following a ring of German spies called the Black Stone. A few days later, Scudder is murdered. Hannay is forced to continue Scudder’s work and is chased across Scotland both by police and German spies. The solution to the mysterious phrase 'Thirty-Nine Steps' is a thread that runs through the whole story.

About Assembled Stories: Over the years the national press have reviewed Assembled Stories titles as ‘excellent’, ‘remarkable’, ‘entrancing’, ‘superb’, ‘magic for sure’, ‘masterly’, ‘wonderful’, ‘a class act’ and ‘a splendid example of audio at its best’.

©1993 John Buchan (P)2007 Assembled Stories

Critic Reviews

"Peter Joyce is the most remarkable one-man band in audiobook publishing. Joyce, an experienced actor, reads them all himself." (The Independent)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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I WAS IN THE SOUP

I THANKED PROVIDENCE
Ya, you thanked providence, without it you would have been toast. As often happens in early adventure type books, everything happens pretty much in favor of the main character. It is amazing how many strangers the main character talks into helping him, even though he is being chased by the law. Suddenly is a word often used. He is walking down the road and suddenly. This was probably a good book for it's time, but readers of today expect better plotting and expect the main character to get out of trouble on his own merits, not by the sudden help of a stranger.

I TOOK HIM INTO MY BEDROOM AND TURNED HIM LOOSE
I especially love the language used in older books. For instance in a lot of older books there is a lot of ejaculating going on. This book seems to have a sort of gay feel to it to, due to the out dated language. IN COMMON DECENCY I HAD TO LET HIM PUMP ME.

THE LIFT MAN HAD AN IMPORTANT FACE
If you can suspend belief and you are a lover of the noir genre this probably a must. Considered the birth of Noir.

The narrator is very good and makes the book that much better.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

epic!!!!!!!

epic story and outstanding narration!!!!!!! Peter Joyce does a great job of making you feel like you know the characters in the story.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Dastardly spies and intrigue, pre WWI

A fine classic tale, one of the first English espionage thrillers, originally written in 1915, this recording from the early 2000's. Narrator Peter Joyce does a fine, classic reading, easily slipping into the accents and stations of the characters.

Sure, by today's standards this story and characterizations are a bit antique and clunky, but nevertheless, there are some fine chases over the moors of Great Britain as WW dawned, dire predicaments, crafty German spies and of course danger! to keep the story racing along. I thoroughly enjoyed my listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Kathy
  • FAIRFAX, VA, United States
  • 02-22-15

Interesting museum piece

Well read. But the story itself hasn't aged well. Still, nice to know what was popular at the time and may have influenced writers like Christie and Sayers.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Nathanial
  • RICHLAND, WA, United States
  • 12-19-12

One of my favorite listens ever!

So I took a chance with this one for a road trip I was driving on solo. I absolutely loved it! excellent story line and performance. If you want to hear a great story check this out, you wont be disappointed.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Gripping story and narration

Would you listen to The Thirty Nine Steps again? Why?

I would listen to it again. It has a great pace, wonderful characters, and Peter Joyce's voice and style are perfect for the tale.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Thirty Nine Steps?

Many -- I think my favorite is his explanation of why he becomes sure the culprits are truly who he is looking for

Have you listened to any of Peter Joyce’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No. But I would like to and will

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It kept me enthralled and I did listen to it much faster than other books

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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yawn!

kept having to restart, kept going to sleep. he was a perfect narrator for this story.

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A good story, a flawless interpretation, and a suspenseful end.

A flawless performance of a good, classic spy romance.
It shows its age a bit in the sometimes (for me) too detailed descriptions of the irish landscape. Some words referring to the peasant lifestyle sent this non-native scrambling after their meaning, and the otherwise nonstop action sometimes slowed to a crawl. The fact that I interrupted its listening daily after listening to small portions may be the culprit, though it picked up pace towards the end, making it worth it.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Lawrence
  • Birmingham, AL, United States
  • 02-26-15

A Fun Listen

If you like a visit to England and Scotland (circa 1914) and don't concern yourself too much with the plot, you'll enjoy this. But, you'll get even more pleasure is you can find Alfred Hitchcock's 39 Steps. It's wonderful.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A Good Yarn

What did you love best about The Thirty Nine Steps?

The suspense and the main character's trials and tribulations.

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

Yes, you never knew what was going to happen to him next.

Which character – as performed by Peter Joyce – was your favorite?

Hannay

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Don't know, I'm not a great one for such things.

Any additional comments?

An excellent book. Well worth a listen,

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Paul
  • 05-26-15

It's good enough, but perhaps aclaim is overdone

I have read reviews of this citing it as the first great espionage novel, etc. it is no Le Carre is all I would say.

The novel is well narrated, but the plot isn't that believable. It felt a bit like a Edwardian pot boiler to me - lots of unlikely twists and turns.

I enjoyed the listen, and I'm glad I've now listened to it, but I don't think I'll be returning to it.

  • Overall
  • jayne
  • 06-23-11

good yarn!

enjoyed hearing the original version - seen quite a few film & tv versions. bit wordy at times but it goes with the period. good ending.

  • Overall
  • Louise
  • 05-04-11

Classic rendition of an espionage classic

I defy anyone not to be utterly transported by this classic thriller. Brilliantly narrated by Peter Joyce.

  • Overall
  • Sharon Pickles
  • 03-16-11

Boys Own Adventure

This is a well known story to me having seen two film versions, which I have always enjoyed. The narrator gives a very 'Dan Dare' type delivery, which keeps you interested, even if you already know the story. The adventure starts when Richard Hannay (our hero) is suspected of the murder of a mysterious stranger he befriends. This stranger tells him a tale of political intrigue and conspiracy which unravels throughout the plot. There follows the chase of Hannay who is being pursued by sinister men across Scotland, as he adopts a series of disguises to escape his would be captures.