Monday, June 19, 2023

Rogue Male

According to Wikipedia, Geoffrey Household (1900-1988) was born in England, earned a B.A. in English Literature, worked as an assistant confidential secretary in Bucharest, sold bananas in Spain, and wrote children's encyclopedias and children's radio pays for CBS. During WWII, Household served in British Intelligence internationally. Household began to write in the 1920s and saw his first novel published in 1936. Overall, he authored 28 total novels, and seven short story collections. But, his most admired and critically acclaimed book is 1939's Rogue Male. The novel was adapted into the film Man Hunt in 1941 and as Rogue Male in 1976. I stumbled onto the novel after reading a number of interviews conducted with David Morrell, an author that cited Rogue Male as a primary influence on his bestseller First Blood

The book's protagonist is a British citizen, unnamed, that loves firearms and hunting. In the opening pages, the character is placing his rifle optics on a dictator, presumably Hitler or Stalin, for sport. But, he is immediately caught by the dictator's military and taken inside to be tortured. At some point, the torture escalates and a military man vomits. From the description, one of the character's eyes becomes lacerated and burned. After the torture, they throw the character over a cliff, making it look like an accident. 

Fortunately (unfortunately for me), the character survives and heads back to England where he finds himself hunted by the dictator's secret police. The character manages to kill one at a train station, then journeys into seclusion in the forest. Here he burrows into a hideaway, but is soon found by his pursuer.  The character is then faced with dying from lack of water and food or somehow killing his enemy.

There's no bones about it. Rogue Male did nothing for me. The narrative is brittle, with a British dryness that seemed absolutely lifeless and one-dimensional. I enjoy British espionage and high-adventure novels, but Rogue Male isn't what I would consider spy-fiction despite the characteristics. In reality, the author spends a painful amount of time dragging his character through the forest examining hedges and trees. The payoff finale was void of any excitement (although it was shocking), leaving me numb with boredom and wishing I had the hours back.

Rogue Male sucks. Bottom line. 

Try your luck with it HERE.


  1. I've listened to the BBC multi-part narration of the book several times. The entire book was read (very ably) and I don't think there is much point in my reading the actual text.