This is the fourth Richard Hannay adventure in the series which started with the much better known The Thirty-Nine Steps. Following becoming a General and a Sir in the Great War, Hannay has retired to the countryside with his wife and young son. But a mysterious criminal gang has kidnapped three people linked to the highest echelons of British society and the baffled authorities appeal to Hannay to find the abductees. All that he has to go on is six lines of poetry which his local doctor can help to interpret. Sure enough, the poetry leads him to where each hostage is hidden and to the master criminal himself who, despite his outward respectability as an MP (how times have changed there!), on first meeting Hannay hypnotises him. But Hannay is able to resist the mesmeric influence and though he continues to act as if he is the puppet and slave of the master, he is slowly able to unravel the crime.
It is well written even though the plot, as outlined above, is a monstrous load of rubbish. It is very much of its time in that it plays to all the prejudices of the Empire-loving Brit: it is racist and anti-Jewish. Working people are good eggs when they are in their place and Hannay's wife is a strong character without whom he could not have freed all the hostages. But the plot, and there is no getting away from the plot in what is, after all, meant to be a thriller, has no tension in it, is almost completely black and white, and revolves around the most audacious set of circumstances.
September 2015; 255 pages
If you like Buchan read Huntingtower which is so much better. Even if you thought you didn't like Buchan, try Witch Wood which is actually well-written with real characters.
- I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57