In May 1914, Europe is close to war and spies are everywhere. Richard Hannay has just returned to London from Rhodesia in order to begin a new life, when a freelance spy called Franklin P. Scudder calls on him to ask for help. Scudder reveals to Hannay that he has uncovered a German plot to murder the Greek Prime Minister and steal British plans for the outbreak of war. Scudder claims to be following a ring of German spies called the Black Stone.
A few days later, Hannay returns to his flat to find Scudder murdered. If Hannay goes to the police, he will be arrested for Scudder’s murder. Hannay decides to continue Scudder’s work and his adventure begins. He escapes from the German spies watching the house and makes his way to Scotland, pursued both by the spies and by the police.
The mysterious phrase Thirty-nine Steps first mentioned by Scudder becomes the title of the novel and the solution to its meaning is a thread that runs through the whole story. Factory Sealed - Shrink Wrapped