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It's May 1914. Richard Hannay has just returned to London from Rhodesia. A man called Scudder meets him and tells him the tall tale of an international conspiracy determined to start a war. The conspirators are on Scudder's track and his only hope is to stage his own suicide and lie low for a while. Hannay agrees to hide Scudder in his London flat, but a few days later Scudder is murdered there by enemy agents and Hannay realizes he will be accused of the crime. Hunted by both policemen and enemy spies, Hannay takes to the Scottish moors in a desperate bid to stay one step ahead of the enemy until he can thwart their evil plans.

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It's May 1914. Richard Hannay has just returned to London from Rhodesia. A years in Rhodesia, and he is ''bored''. Then, one evening, he returns home to discover his downstairs neighbour has been murdered. That night his supposedly dead neighbour, a man called Scudder Scudder, meets him and tells him the tall tale of an international conspiracy determined to start a war. The conspirators are on Scudder's track and his only hope is was to stage his own suicide and lie low for a while. Hannay agrees to hide Scudder in his London flat, but a few days later Scudder is murdered there by enemy agents and Hannay realizes he will be accused of the crime. Hunted by both policemen and enemy spies, Hannay takes to the Scottish moors in a desperate bid to stay one step ahead of the enemy until he can thwart their evil plans.


Adapted [[Film/The39Steps four times for film]] (including [[Film/The39Steps1935 once by Hitchcock]]), once for TV, [[Theatre/The39Steps once for the stage]], several times for radio, and as a (linear) visual novel.

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Adapted [[Film/The39Steps four three times for film]] film (including [[Film/The39Steps1935 once by Hitchcock]]), once for TV, [[Theatre/The39Steps once for the stage]], several times for radio, and as a (linear) visual novel.



* ''Film/{{The 39 Steps|1959}}'' - the 1959 film



* ''Film/The39Steps'' - other film adaptations

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* ''Film/The39Steps'' ''Film/{{The 39 Steps|2008}}'' - other film adaptationsthe 2008 TV movie


* LadyOfAdventure: Mary, when duty calls.


* DistressedDude: Hannay gets lured into a DeathTrap in ''Mr Standfast''. [[spoiler: From which he extracts himself with a combination of astronomy, trajectories, brute strength and really good shooting.]]



* JamesBondage: Hannay gets lured into a DeathTrap in ''Mr Standfast''. [[spoiler: From which he extracts himself with a combination of astronomy, trajectories, brute strength and really good shooting.]]


* RefusalOfTheCall: In ''The Three Hostages'', Hannay refuses two separate requests to help out with the hostage situation, partly because he doesn't want to leave his comfortable retirement and partly because he genuinely doesn't see anything he can do that isn't already being done. He gives in after the third request, from the father of the boy hostage, leads his to think about how he'd feel if it were his own son and realise that he won't be able to live with himself if he doesn't try.

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* RefusalOfTheCall: In ''The Three Hostages'', Hannay refuses two separate requests to help out with the hostage situation, partly because he doesn't want to leave his comfortable retirement and partly because he genuinely doesn't see anything he can do that isn't already being done. He gives in after the third request, from the father of the boy hostage, leads his him to think about how he'd feel if it were his own son and realise that he won't be able to live with himself if he doesn't try.


* DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu?: In ''Greenmantle'', Hannay is out of ideas and simply punches Stumm in the jaw, surprising both of them.


** Out of the entire housing stock of Scotland, Hannay just happens to enter the house being rented by the spy ringleaders. [[spoiler:And the room they lock him in just happens to have explosives in the cupboard.]]

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** Out of the entire housing stock of Scotland, Hannay just happens to enter the house being rented by the spy ringleaders. [[spoiler:And the room they lock him in just happens to have explosives in the cupboard. And of course Hannay just happens to be a mining engineer who knows just how to use them safely.]]

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* DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu?: In ''Greenmantle'', Hannay is out of ideas and simply punches Stumm in the jaw, surprising both of them.


* TheBaroness: Hilda von Einem from ''Greenmantle''.

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* TheBaroness: Hilda von Einem from ''Greenmantle''.''Greenmantle'', a seductive and ruthlessly intelligent German noblewoman in charge of the secret German scheme. Hannay is resistant to her sexual wiles but admits to finding himself jealous of her attention and foolishly pleased when she decides he's dangerous enough to actively try and kill. There are hints that she's attracted to Sandy Arbuthnot, Hannay's colleague who infiltrates her organization; her biggest loss of composure is when she learns that he's been a mole for the British side all along.



* ChekhovsGunman: In ''The Three Hostages'', Sandy mentions that he distrusts Medina because of the way Medina treated his friend Lavater. Lavater turns out to have a larger role in the story than is immediately obvious.
* TheChessmaster: John Blenkiron among others.

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* ChekhovsGunman: In ''The Three Hostages'', Sandy mentions that he distrusts Dominick Medina because of the way Medina treated his friend Lavater. Lavater turns out to have a larger role in the story than is immediately obvious.
* TheChessmaster: ''Mr Standfast'' develops into a contest between two chessmasters, Graf von Schwabing on the German side and John S. Blenkiron among others.on the British. Several times it turns out that von Schwabing has known the heroes' moves all along and acted against them while letting them think they were undetected -- but in the end it turns out Blenkiron is even better at that game than he is.



* KarmicDeath: [[spoiler: Medina]] in ''The Three Hostages'', [[spoiler: who would have survived if he hadn't just disabled Hannay, the one man able to save him.]]

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* KarmicDeath: [[spoiler: [[spoiler:Dominick Medina]] in ''The Three Hostages'', [[spoiler: who would have survived if he hadn't just disabled Hannay, the one man able to save him.]]



* TwoAliasesOneCharacter: In ''The Three Hostages'', Hannay has several encounters with mysterious "sad, grey-faced" man who forms part of Medina's entourage, but doesn't learn his name until near the end, at which point he turns out to be a person who has been mentioned several times in another context.

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* TwoAliasesOneCharacter: In ''The Three Hostages'', Hannay has several encounters with mysterious "sad, grey-faced" man who forms part of Dominick Medina's entourage, but doesn't learn his name until near the end, at which point he turns out to be a person who has been mentioned several times in another context.


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* VillainWithGoodPublicity: In ''The Three Hostages'', Dominick Medina is a well-known and respected public figure, explorer, politician, philanthropist and poet. He's also the DiabolicalMastermind at the head of an international crime syndicate. Even Hannay doesn't believe it until Medina personally tries to put him out of the way. At the end, though the heroes rescue the hostages and break the crime syndicate, they can't touch Medina personally, and he would have got away clean if he hadn't gone after Hannay in a PostClimaxConfrontation.


* BadassNormal: Compared to the villains and even some of the good guys--including the LoveInterest--Hannay's intelligence is average, but he takes down world-ruling geniuses simply by [[{{Determinator}} refusing to give up]].

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* PinnedToTheWall: When Scudder is killed near the beginning of ''The Thirty-Nine Steps'', Hannay finds that the knife has been stuck through his chest so deeply his body is pinned to the floor.
* PreventTheWar: ''The Thirty-Nine Steps'' begins with this as Hannay's motivation, trying to warn the authorities of the impending assassination of the Greek Prime Minister, Karolides, which will tip the world into war. Since Buchan wrote the book when the War had already begun, failure on that score is a foregone conclusion, and toward the end of the book the emphasis shifts toward preventing the spies escaping with the information they've gathered about Britain's defences.


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* RichBoredom: ''The Thirty-Nine Steps'' begins with Hannay, having retired young and financially secure after a successful career in Africa, utterly bored and on the verge of packing it all in and going back to Africa just for something to do. Then he meets Scudder and gets caught up in a thoroughly un-boring espionage caper.


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* WrongfulAccusationInsurance: At one point, Hannay reflects that while he's not the murderer everyone thinks he is, he has at that point among other things lied to almost everyone he's come across, impersonated a political candidate and a road-worker, and has hijacked at least two expensive cars. There's no mention of him getting into any official trouble over any of it; presumably the Foreign Office smoothed things over in thanks for him helping save the country.


* IntroOnlyPointOfView: ''The Courts of the Morning'' begins with Hannay narrating in first person as usual, for three chapters of him being approached to come out of retirement, discussing things with Sandy, Archie and Janet, and finally deciding definitively to stay home and not get involved. From chapter 4 the narration switches to third person and starts following Archie and Janet Roylance instead, and Hannay is not seen again until the beginning of the next novel.

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* IntroOnlyPointOfView: ''The Courts of the Morning'' begins with Hannay narrating in first person as usual, for three chapters of him being approached to come out of retirement, discussing things with Sandy, Archie and Janet, and finally deciding definitively to stay home and not get involved. From chapter 4 the narration switches to third person and starts following Archie and Janet Roylance instead, and Hannay is not seen again until the beginning of the next novel.



* IWillOnlySlowYouDown: When Archie Roylance and Geordie Hamilton are stranded halfway up a mountain and Geordie is seriously injured, Geordie tries to tell Archie to leave him behind. Archie of course refuses, and they both survive.

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* IWillOnlySlowYouDown: When In ''The Courts of the Morning'', when Archie Roylance and Geordie Hamilton are stranded halfway up a mountain and Geordie is seriously injured, Geordie tries to tell Archie to leave him behind. Archie of course refuses, and they both survive.



* RedemptionEqualsDeath: In ''The Courts of the Morning'', [[spoiler:the heroes go to a lot of effort to help the DiabolicalMastermind to a HeelFaceTurn, figuring that he's not positively evil, just twisted by a cynical and friendless priveleged upbringing, and is capable of being as great a force for good as he is for evil. It works, and as the book reaches its close, he's looking forward to a new future and the good he can do for the world and his new friends -- and then in the last chapter he's murdered by a vengeful former henchman who escaped the round-up of his old criminal organization]].

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* RedemptionEqualsDeath: In ''The Courts of the Morning'', [[spoiler:the heroes go to a lot of effort to help the DiabolicalMastermind to a HeelFaceTurn, figuring that he's not positively evil, just twisted by a cynical and friendless priveleged privileged upbringing, and is capable of being as great a force for good as he is for evil. It works, and as the book reaches its close, he's looking forward to a new future and the good he can do for the world and his new friends -- and then in the last chapter he's murdered by a vengeful former henchman who escaped the round-up of his old criminal organization]].


* AgeGapRomance: When Richard Hannay meets Mary Lamington in ''Mr Standfast'', he's approaching forty and she's seventeen. Hannay is somewhat self-conscious about the age gap, and Mary occasionally tweaks him about it, but nobody regards it as a serious obstacle. It's noted that Mary is mature for her age compared to what she might have been if she hadn't spent the last few years playing an active role in the war effort.

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* AgeGapRomance: AgeGapRomance:
**
When Richard Hannay meets Mary Lamington in ''Mr Standfast'', he's approaching forty and she's seventeen. Hannay is somewhat self-conscious about the age gap, and Mary occasionally tweaks him about it, but nobody regards it as a serious obstacle. It's noted that Mary is mature for her age compared to what she might have been if she hadn't spent the last few years playing an active role in the war effort.effort.
** There's a similar age gap between Sandy Arbuthnot and Barbara Dasent in ''The Courts of the Morning'': he's in his early forties, and she's twenty-four.
* AttemptedRape: In ''The Courts of the Morning'', the bad guys take Janet Roylance hostage after things start going against them. She's kept in a locked room at nights for her own protection, because the {{mook}}s are really not nice people and some of them have designs on her, and their leaders no longer have enough influence to keep them in line by word alone. One of them manages to gain access to her room, but fortunately the heroes arrive to break her out in the nick of time.



* BananaRepublic: ''The Courts of the Morning'' is set in Olifa, a South American republic whose President and cabinet are in the pocket of a multinational mining corporation whose copper exports are the mainstay of its prosperity.



* BedouinRescueService: Played with in ''The Courts of the Morning''. Archie Roylance and Geordie Hamilton are stranded in the highlands of Olifa after a plane crash and are at the ends of their endurance when they're found by a group of native warriors. It turns out not to be an entirely chance meeting: the warriors are working with Luis de Marzaniga, another of the heroes who had been previously established to have a rapport with the local tribes, and were in the area looking for the same thing Archie and Geordie came looking for when their plane crashed.



* CutPhoneLines: In ''The Island of Sheep'', the villains cut the phone line to Haraldsen's house before their attack, to prevent him calling for help.

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* CutPhoneLines: CutPhoneLines:
** Used several times in ''The Courts of the Morning'', by both the heroes and the villains.
**
In ''The Island of Sheep'', the villains cut the phone line to Haraldsen's house before their attack, to prevent him calling for help.



* DiedInYourArmsTonight: At the end of ''The Courts of the Morning'', [[spoiler:the reformed Castor]] is murdered, and dies held in the arms of the woman he loves.



* DragonAscendant:
** TheDragon of ''The Thirty-Nine Steps'' is the BigBad of ''Mr Standfast''.
** The Dragon of ''The Courts of the Morning'' doesn't survive, but the most senior surviving henchman becomes the BigBad of ''The Island of Sheep''.



* FakingTheDead: In ''The Courts of the Morning'', Blenkiron fakes his death near the beginning to allay the BigBad's suspicions that Blenkiron is on to him. Later in the book, Sandy fakes the death of his cover identity once it's outlived its usefulness, so that he can move on to the next stage of the operation without anyone wondering where he's disappeared to.
* FantasticDrug: In ''The Courts of the Morning'', part of the BigBad's scheme depends on a drug called "asturas", derived from a rare plant found in the mountains of Olifa, which has exactly the properties required to make the plot work.



* IntroOnlyPointOfView: ''The Courts of the Morning'' begins with Hannay narrating in first person as usual, for three chapters of him being approached to come out of retirement, discussing things with Sandy, Archie and Janet, and finally deciding definitively to stay home and not get involved. From chapter 4 the narration switches to third person and starts following Archie and Janet Roylance instead, and Hannay is not seen again until the beginning of the next novel.



* IWillOnlySlowYouDown: When Archie Roylance and Geordie Hamilton are stranded halfway up a mountain and Geordie is seriously injured, Geordie tries to tell Archie to leave him behind. Archie of course refuses, and they both survive.



** Sandy Arbuthnot in ''Greenmantle'', ''The Three Hostages'', and ''The Island of Sheep''. In each, there's a scene where Hannay meets him in disguise without having the slightest clue that it's him, even though they're friends and have lived in close quarters for an extended period.

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** Sandy Arbuthnot in ''Greenmantle'', ''The Three Hostages'', ''The Courts of the Morning'' and ''The Island of Sheep''. In each, there's a scene where Hannay meets him in disguise without having the slightest clue that it's him, even though they're friends and have lived in close quarters for an extended period. (In ''The Courts of the Morning'', since Hannay is not involved, the surprise falls on Archie Roylance instead.)



** Each of the novels featuring Sandy Arbuthnot has him going off on his own to find out what he can about the villains, disappearing without leaving any message, and then an apparent antagonist turning out to be Sandy in a disguise he's adopted to infiltrate the villain's organisation. In the last book of the series, Hannay actually anticipates the revelation and arranges a private meeting with the villain he suspects of being Sandy in disguise to give him a chance to reveal himself.

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** Each of the novels featuring Sandy Arbuthnot has him going off on his own to find out what he can about the villains, disappearing without leaving any message, and then an apparent antagonist turning out to be Sandy in a disguise he's adopted to infiltrate the villain's organisation. Even ''The Courts of the Morning'', where Sandy is the main character instead of Hannay, does it, though it gets the whole business out of the way within the first ten chapters. In the last book of the series, Hannay actually anticipates the revelation and arranges a private meeting with the villain he suspects of being Sandy in disguise to give him a chance to reveal himself.



* RedemptionEqualsDeath: In ''The Courts of the Morning'', [[spoiler:the heroes go to a lot of effort to help the DiabolicalMastermind to a HeelFaceTurn, figuring that he's not positively evil, just twisted by a cynical and friendless priveleged upbringing, and is capable of being as great a force for good as he is for evil. It works, and as the book reaches its close, he's looking forward to a new future and the good he can do for the world and his new friends -- and then in the last chapter he's murdered by a vengeful former henchman who escaped the round-up of his old criminal organization]].



* RefusalOfTheSecondCall: In ''The Courts of the Morning'', Hannay once again declines a request to come out of retirement, and this time for once it sticks, leaving the heroics to his younger friend Archie Roylance.



* RopeBridge: ''The Courts of the Morning'' includes a chase through the South American jungle that ends when the heroes get across a rope bridge and cut it behind them, sending their pursuers plummeting.



** John Blenkiron again in ''The Courts of the Morning''.
* StatingTheSimpleSolution: In an unusual variation, in ''The Courts of the Morning'' it's the DiabolicalMastermind who points out the simple solution to the heroes. The heroes capture the Diabolical Mastermind about a third of the way in, as the first step of a complicated scheme that takes the rest of the novel to play out. When he starts to get an idea of what they're planning, he points out that it would be simpler and safer for them just to shoot him now. They reply that getting him out of the way isn't the only thing they're trying to achieve, and because they're the heroes their complicated scheme does end up achieving nearly everything they wanted.



* TwiceShy: In ''The Courts of the Morning'', Barbara admits to a friend that she loves Sandy but believes she doesn't have a chance with him, and Sandy admits to another friend that he loves Barbara but believes he doesn't have a chance with her. The novel ends just as the latter friend nudges the two of them together. In the sequel, they're married.



* WackyAmericansHaveWackyNames: Hannay's American ally John S. Blenkiron. (The S is revealed in his final appearance to stand for "Scantlebury".)




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* YearX: The opening sentence of ''The Courts of the Morning'' gives the date as "the August of 192-".


* ''The Courts of the Morning'': Nearly every member of the recurring cast ''except'' Sir Richard and Lady Hannay (who for once successfully protest that they're retired and have a family to look after, and don't appear after the first few chapters) get involved in stopping a criminal mastermind plotting world domination in South America.




Another related novel is ''The Courts of the Morning'', in which Hannay's friend Sandy Arbuthnot has an adventure in South America along with several other supporting characters from the Hannay novels; Hannay himself has a brief appearance at the beginning but is not otherwise involved.


** In the climactic scene of ''The Thirty-Nine Steps'', Hannay has to decide whether a man he's watching is the master spy behind the plot (who is also accomplished at disguise) or just an innocent bystander. He's almost convinced the man is just an innocent bystander when the man makes a finger-tapping gesture that Hannay recognises from when he was a captive of the spy ring earlier in the book.

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** In the climactic scene of ''The Thirty-Nine Steps'', Hannay has to decide whether a man he's watching is the master spy behind the plot (who is also accomplished at disguise) a MasterActor) or just an innocent bystander. He's almost convinced the man is just an innocent bystander when the man makes a finger-tapping gesture that Hannay recognises from when he was a captive of the spy ring earlier in the book.

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