This is a thriller from 1939 that almost wants to be as apolitical and ahistorical as possible, while also borrowing heavily from the politics and history of the time and context. We begin with the narration of an English aristocrat (or rich celeb, it’s never entirely clear) as he’s been arrested, tortured, and escaped. He’s now in hiding with enough time and space for us to better understand his situation. He is a famous gamehunter who was captured while seemingly planning the assassination of a central European leader (Hitler??). It’s not clear or rather he goes back and forth as to whether he was actually planning the assassination or if he was simply looking into as a kind of sport for planning. He slowly stalks and approaches the political stronghold, times and observes the guards’ routines, and only by random chance he’s captured. And because he’s on the ground with a scoped a rifle, it’s pretty clear what he was doing. So he escapes and the rest of the novel is all about his attempts to either get home to England, come up with an alternative plan, and of course the pursuit from multiple agencies and angles.
This is a kind of great novel and kind of dumb as hell. When it’s an adventure it’s really good. It’s like reading a tautly written video game mission (I’ve spent plenty of hours timing guard routes and looking for a clear shot), and when it’s political, or falsely apolitical, it’s kind of dumb. His absolute refusal to engage with politics and his thinking that he’s a good ole chap deep down just never works.