With a career spanning over 50 years, Geoffrey Household was a major figure in the world of thriller and suspense fiction. Yet, he remains criminally underrated among American audiences.
Readers have continuously compared him to other British masters of suspense like Alfred Hitchcock and Ian Flemming, so it seems that it's time for Geoffrey Household’s moment in the sun. Containing more than 20 novels and several short stories, Household’s catalog has something for every thriller lover.
What makes many of Household’s works so intriguing is that they draw from his own life experiences. Although he received his degree in English literature, Household spent the years between his graduation in 1922 and the outbreak of World War II in the business sector. During these years, he spent time in Spain as well as countries in the Middle East and South America.
Once the war began, Household served with the British Intelligence where he was posted in dangerous areas like Greece, Romania, and the Middle East. After the war, he retired to the English countryside where he wrote most of his body of work until his death in 1988.
What makes many of Household’s works so intriguing is that they draw from his own life experiences. Although he received his degree in English literature, Household spent the years between his graduation in 1922 and the outbreak of World War II in the business sector. During these years, he spent time in Spain as well as countries in the Middle East and South America. Once the war began, Household served with the British Intelligence where he was posted in dangerous areas like Greece, Romania, and the Middle East. After the war, he retired to the English countryside where he wrote most of his body of work until his death in 1988.
The Last Two Weeks of Georges Rivac
The Last Two Weeks of Georges Rivac draws on Household’s time in the world of business. The novel follows Rivac, a European businessman, as a favor for a potential new client puts him on the run from an unknown assailant and in the midst of an international conspiracy.
Household’s time with British Intelligence was a great source of inspiration, and many of his best works are espionage thrillers. Doom’s Caravan is set at the height of World War II in the Middle Eastern theatre as a manhunt gets underway for a high-ranking British intelligence officer who has seemingly gone rogue. As the characters in Doom’s Caravan struggle in the high-stakes environment of the World War II Middle East, it isn’t hard to imagine Household himself grappling with those same fears and unknowns.
Watcher in the Shadows
In Watcher in the Shadows, Charles Dennim thought he’d left his life as a spy behind when he returned from his time spent undercover in Germany. However, when a disguised bomb meant for him explodes and kills a mailman as he attempts to deliver it, Charles realizes he is not as safe at home as he thought he once was.
The High Place
The High Place follows veteran Eric Amberson as his inability to adjust to life in postwar Britain brings him back to the site of his old post in Syria. While there, Eric falls in love with Elisa, a fellow transplant from Europe. However, Eric soon finds that Elisa isn’t just a displaced refugee and the fact that she and her cohorts are living in the abandoned fortress of a bizarre cult begins to seem like much more than a coincidence.
More than just espionage thrillers
Geoffrey Household also truly lives up to the definition of a prolific author. He is one of the few authors with a large volume of work who doesn’t fall into the trap of basically writing the same book over and over. Although all of the books we have already discussed involve international intrigue, they all come at it in very different ways. It seems near impossible to get tired of Household’s stories.
But if you’re not a big fan of espionage thrillers, don’t count him out just yet. Household was never afraid to expand the boundaries of his writing.
The Exploits of Xenophon
Fans of historical fiction will enjoy The Exploits of Xenophon, a retelling of Xenophon’s Anabasis, which follows the famed commander of the Ten Thousand Greek mercenaries who marched on Persia and nearly captured Babylon in 401 BC.
Prisoner of the Indies
Household also published several novels for young adults, including Prisoner of the Indies, which tells the story of 13-year-old Miles Philips as he sets sail for the New World in 1567. But when his ship sinks in battle off the coast of San Juan, Miles will find himself facing a world of adventures in New Spain.
Dance of the Dwarfs
One of several of Household’s works to be adapted to film, Dance of the Dwarfs delves into the realm of the supernatural. When studying the flora in a remote part of Columbia, Dr. Owen Dawnay learns about the strange superstitions of the local population.
They huddle in their houses from dusk to dawn, fearful of spirits that emerge at night to dance and feed on whatever they come across. As Owen begins to investigate this strange phenomenon, his skepticism fades into doubt in his science and his sanity.
In The Sending, Household combines his knowledge of life as an English country gentleman with a supernatural twist. Following the death of his father, Alfgif Hollaston returns to his childhood home only for Paddy Gadsden, a saddler on the estate, to turn up violently murdered. With death suddenly everywhere, Alfgif begins receiving psychic sensations that seem to be telling him to flee the estate as quickly as possible.
So America, meet Geoffrey Household. A master of his craft and a legend long after his own time, it’s time to find out exactly what you’ve been missing.