One of the first and best thrillers ever written. The story of a South African in Britain some time before the beginning of WWI. He mistakenly runs into a gang of German spies and then runs from them, all over the UK, before, of course, he wins out.
This short 1915 British novel became the prototype for the spy thriller, and I enjoyed it. The 88-page story moves quickly, and the reader is tossed into the middle of the mystery and left to discover what's going on along with the main character. The author achieves this without needing to use the "adult" language and situations modern thriller authors seem to prefer, making the book appropriate for grown-ups and teens alike. (Teachers may want to add this book to a curriculum studying World War I, as the fictional events in this story lead up to the start of the war.)
John Buchan's 39 steps is a classic in every sense of the word. A short novel the pace is quick, the charaters well drawn and interesting. The action is non stop. The book ending differs from the endings in the movies that have been made from the book. Just so you know. Can be read in an evening and a great alternative to 4 hours of tv.