Monday, February 4, 2019

Predator and prey

Cat-and-mouse is probably the original thriller plot, in fact. It’s certainly the most useful, lending itself to all kinds of variations and permutations as predator tracks prey. ....

John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps, published in 1915, might be the first example of the cat-and-mouse thriller: Richard Hannay, returning to Great Britain after a stay in Rhodesia, becomes the target of an international manhunt by German spies who plan to—well, never mind. The underlying motive of the bad guys isn’t the point of The Thirty-Nine Steps. The point is the chase, and Hannay’s uncanny ability to turn situations against his pursuers, ultimately defeating them. Buchan’s novel, originally serialized in two parts, was the first of five novels to feature Richard Hannay, and has inspired three films, a TV show, a Broadway play, and countless imitators.

One of his earliest imitators was Agatha Christie herself, who gave her characters Tuppence and Tommy a similar cat-and-mouse chase in their debut, The Secret Adversary (1922). Christie made extensive use of the cat-and-mouse structure, adapting it freely to suit her purposes. And Then there Were None (1939) put Dame Agatha’s own unique spin on the cat-and-mouse story, with multiple mice at the mercy of one ruthless cat. .... (more)
The Secret Adversary is in the public domain and can be downloaded free (as can The Thirty-Nine Steps).

Another instance: Watcher in the Shadows

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