Geoffrey Household’s novel Rogue Male, written on the eve of the Second World War, told the story of a British big game hunter who decided on his own to shoot and kill an un-named European dictator. The book, considered a classic of the genre, was made into a Hollywood film directed by Fritz Lang, and in the film the dictator is clearly Hitler, as Household intended from the start.
Several decades later, Household wrote the sequel, Rogue Justice. Upon learning of this book’s existence, I was keen to read it. Rogue Male and the film both ended without us really knowing the fate of the protagonist — or Hitler for that matter. In the intervening years, Household was recruited to the British Special Operations Executive (SOE), which did have a plan to kill Hitler not unlike the one Household described, and he spent some time in German-allied Romania and elsewhere. His experience there clearly provides the background to this story, set about three years after the events in Rogue Male.
But what a disappointment this book turned out to be. It is a long account of a long journey from Germany to a nunnery in the heart of Africa, via Auschwitz, Poland, Romania, Istanbul, Greece, Italian-occupied Albania, Palestine and Egypt. Not much actually happens. The protagonist — now named — is on the run. He kills some people. And that’s pretty much the whole story. Rogue Male should have been left as it was, a masterpiece of the genre, without this sequel which was, frankly, a boring read.