After a performance by Mr. Memory at a London music hall leads to a brawl, Richard Hannay goes offers to help a mysterious woman, Annabella Smith. She claims she is on the run from foreign spies and he agrees to let her spend the night in his flat. Annabella tells him she'll be off to Scotland in the morning but she is murdered in his flat. Hannay heads to Scotland having only her map and a cryptic reference to the 39 steps. He manages to stay ahead of the police, eventually making his way to Annabelle's contact in Scotland, Professor Jordan. Air Ministry secrets have been stolen but Hannay can't seem to convince anyone. Eventually arrested, he and his new companion Pamela escape and return to London where the solution to the mystery lies.