A FAMOUS thriller looks set to grip Swindon, both on and off the stage.

Swindon Borough Council’s library service has teamed up with the Wyvern Theatre to invite people to read John Buchan’s The 39 Steps, prior to watching Patrick Barlow’s adaptation on stage at the Wyvern in February.

Libraries across the town are giving away 2,000 free copies of The 39 Steps, with new library members being offered an exclusive ticket discount to watch the production at the theatre.

Existing library members who encourage a friend to join will also get the discount. Details are available at all town libraries.

The story is set on the eve of the First World War and is a comedy thriller with dashing hero Richard Hannay, stumbling into a cat and mouse chase with German spies, from London to Scotland.

The stage production, from February 4 to 9, is based on the film adaptation of the book and has four actors playing 139 roles in 100 minutes of action.

Swindon Libraries’ local studies team has put together a trail of 39 things to see around Swindon town centre, in conjunction with the Town Wide Read.

Coun Keith Williams, cabinet member for leisure and strategic transport, including libraries, said: “The 39 Steps is a fantastic tale and I’m really pleased we have been able to join forces with the Wyvern to come up with a fun way of combining our reading initiative with their stage production.

“This is a great opportunity to introduce non-members to our wonderful library service and I hope people dash down to their local libraries to pick up their free copies of the book and claim their discount for the Wyvern show.”

Derek Aldridge, The Wyvern’s theatre director, said: “We’re thrilled that local audiences are able to engage with the production, before its arrival in Swindon, through this blissfully brilliant opportunity.”

When people have read the book, they can share their opinions with others by joining one of Swindon’s reading groups. For details, see www.readinggroups.org.