Read A Rough Shoot by Geoffrey Household Free Online
Book Title: A Rough Shoot|
The author of the book: Geoffrey Household
Date of issue: November 21st 2013
ISBN 13: 9781780224305
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 25.56 MB
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Reader ratings: 7.8
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I love the ‘innocent bystander’ type spy story. They are the classic wrong place at the wrong time scenario. It is the innocent person who stumbles in on an incident or who gets caught up in the web of intrigue by accident. The classic example would have to be, The 39 Steps where Richard Hannay by shear happenstance gets caught up with foreign spies. The thing is, however, many of these stories are extremely contrived at the beginning to drag the ‘innocent bystander’ into the shenanigans.
A Rough Shoot has a very novel approach to this problem, but before I explain how our hero, Roger Taine, is drawn into the story, I’ll outline a little of the background. Firstly, I’ll explain what a ‘shoot’ is. In this instance, it is a property, called Blossom’s Farm in Dorset. Roger Taine has bought the shooting rights to the property. That is he is allowed to hunt all the game on the property. Anyone else, who takes a pot shot at some pheasant or rabbits on the property is a poacher.
As the story begins, Taine is on his shoot, when he spies two men on his property. Naturally he thinks they are poachers and decides to teach them – at least one of them – a lesson. He fires a load of buckshot into the backside of one of the poachers. Upon hearing the shot, the second poacher scarpers. The first however, the one who was shot, falls over and impales himself on a spike he had been setting up. The spike pierces his heart, and the man dies.
Taine wanted to teach the man a tweezers and Mercurochrome lesson, but not kill him. Taine panics. He has a young family, and even though it was an accident, he doesn’t want to spend time behind bars for manslaughter. So he does what any normal man in his position would do – he buries the body on the shoot and pretends the incident never occurred.
But now Taine is on edge. He is waiting for the knock on the door from the police – but strangely the ‘knock’ never comes. Now there’s a reason that the police haven’t come for Taine – and that’s simply because no one has reported a crime or a missing person to the police. Now what type of people wouldn’t report a murder to the police? The type who don’t want the police to know what they are doing.
One person who has an idea of what’s going on is a Polish General named Sandorski. Sandorski is a strange sort of freelance secret agent. From page 31 (Taine’s summation of Sandorski):
' I don’t know how many secret organizations he served when it suited him – indeed, I doubt if he knew himself – but one was his own, formed by him and let by him.'
While performing one of his missions in Germany, interrogating a professional thug, Sandorski hears that he has been accused of killing a man in Dorset. Of course Sandorski did no such thing, but the blame has fallen on him so he sets off for England and to Dorset. There he sits around and watches and waits. One weekend, when Taine is shooting game, Sandorski approaches him with the suggestion that it was Taine who killed the missing gentleman.
Taine doesn’t admit to the crime, but asks why Sandorski would believe such a thing. It comes down to the simple fact, that Taine is the only one in the vicinity with the shooting skills to do so. But Sandorski isn’t after Taine. He’s after a secret spy ring, that have been operating in the area.
The spikes that the alleged ‘poachers’ had been setting up at the beginning, were actually the legs for a series of homing beacons, which the aircraft would use to land safely on Taine’s shoot. The willful and impulsive Sandorski enlists Taine’s aid to move the beacons, so the plane will in fact land in another location, giving them time to discover who and what is on board.
A Rough Shoot is a very short book, barely more than a novella, and it is fast paced – so most readers would knock this over in an evening. Geoffrey Household adopts the first person narrative style he used so well in Rogue Male, and so at times the story seems to be cut from a similar cloth, but in reality this story is less substantial than Rogue Male – and at times, primarily due to the actions of General Sandorski, it almost becomes light comedy. None-the-less, A Rough Shoot is a pleasant diversion for an evening and a fascinating companion piece to the harder Rogue Male.
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Read information about the authorBritish author of mostly thrillers, though among 37 books he also published children's fiction. Household's flight-and-chase novels, which show the influence of John Buchan, were often narrated in the first person by a gentleman-adventurer. Among his best-know works is' Rogue Male' (1939), a suggestive story of a hunter who becomes the hunted, in 1941 filmed by Fritz Lang as 'Man Hunt'. Household's fast-paced story foreshadowed such international bestsellers as Richard Condon's thriller 'The Manchurian Candidate' (1959), Frederick Forsyth's 'The Day of the Jackal' (1971), and Ken Follett's 'Eye of the Needle' (1978) .
In 1922 Household received his B.A. in English from Magdalen College, Oxford, and between 1922 and 1935 worked in commerce abroad, moving to the US in 1929. During World War II, Household served in the Intelligence Corps in Romania and the Middle East.
Household also published an autobiography, 'Against the Wind' (1958), and several collections of short stories, which he himself considered his best work.
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