A narrative hook engages a reader from a story's opening paragraphs, and Saki's memorably ironic tale "The Interlopers" actually has three such hooks. The story opens with Ulrich von Gradwitz prowling his Carpathian snow-bound ancestral forest for "a human enemy." This first narrative hook leads you to expect a "Most Dangerous Game"-style confrontation, crazed hunter against unwitting victim. Saki's second surprise, however, hooks you more deeply.

Boredom and Surprise

Actor Laurence Olivier, in "On Acting," quoted film director William Wyler: "If you really want to shock ... an audience, get them a little bored first." Saki (the pen name of H. H. Munro) follows this idea faithfully. A long, dully intricate paragraph outlines the feud between Ulrich and Georg Znaeym -- even their names are overelaborate -- before the story's second shock hits, when Ulrich, primed to kill, "came face to face with the man he sought."

A narrative hook engages a reader from a story's opening paragraphs, and Saki's memorably ironic tale "The Interlopers" actually has three such hooks. The story opens with Ulrich von Gradwitz prowling his Carpathian snow-bound ancestral forest for "a human enemy." This first narrative hook leads you to expect a "Most Dangerous Game"-style confrontation, crazed hunter against unwitting victim. Saki's second surprise, however, hooks you more deeply.

Hooked Again

Saki tosses his reader another shock immediately. Before the enemies can act, a "mass of falling beech tree ... thundered down on them." They are trapped, as is the hooked reader, now eager to experience Saki's ironic rising action and his horrific outcome.