My name is Roger Taine. I am thirty-four, with a family and no capital. I have a good job as Dorset agent for a big quarry combine. (5)
I read Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male a little more than a year ago and was fascinated by the plot concept, a man on the run, forced to hide like an animal from the people who want him dead. This novel, A Rough Shoot, has a slightly different style, but was still a fascinating little adventure. In fact, it reminded me a bit of an old radio serial, and I venture to guess that Household had such a genre in mind when he penned this story.
This particular story begins with Roger Taine, a businessman who enjoys a good hunt on a particular plot of land in Great Britain. When he comes upon two men one evening whom he assumes are poachers, he attempts to scare them, but instead kills one and is left in quite a quandary. If he admits to the police his actions, he’d be locked up for murder, which would destroy his young family. On the other hand, if he were to take of the situation himself, he might be free and clear. After all, what are the chances that someone would report a missing poacher? With these thoughts in mind, he decides to hide the body, unwittingly placing himself in the midst of an adventure that has larger political ramifications than he could have imagined.
While a key antagonist later admits that the danger surrounding them all is not quite “life or death,” Taine still finds himself in the midst of a world of kidnapping, murder, car chases, and international spies. At just 108 pages, this story moves quickly and lacks any of the fluff that other, more put-downable novels might have, if an author tries to lengthen his pages to make an extra buck. Household didn’t give in to that temptation, making this a quick, suspenseful read. I’d pick up another Household book again, just to enjoy another good, first-person yarn like these.