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John Buchan

Book Overview: 

Dickson McCunn, a respectable, newly retired grocer, plans a walking holiday in the hills of south-west Scotland. He meets a young English poet and finds himself in the thick of a plot involving the kidnapping of a Russian princess, who is held prisoner in the rambling mansion, Huntingtower. This modern fairy-tale is also a gripping adventure story.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .I'm going back to that place."

The man was clearly demented and must be humoured. "Well, you must wait till the morn's morning. It's very near dark now, and those are two ugly customers wandering about yonder. You'd better sleep the night on it."

Mr. Heritage seemed to be persuaded. He suffered himself to be led up the now dusky slopes to the gate where the road from the village ended. He walked listlessly like a man engaged in painful reflection. Once only he broke the silence.

"You heard the singing?" he asked.

Dickson was a very poor hand at a lie. "I heard something," he admitted.

"You heard a girl's voice singing?"

"It sounded like that," was the admission. "But I'm thinking it might have been a seagull."

"You're a fool," said the Poet rudely.

The return was a melancholy business, compared to the bright speed of the outward journey. Dickson's mind was a chao. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Both the Russian Revolution and the Great War lurk in the close-background of Huntingtower, set in a Scotland of 1920 and published in 1922, but there's always a subdued jolliness and sense of well-being in Buchan's adventure novels that mitigates whatever menace he introduces. However grim he tr...more

I've always enjoyed this story of the retired grocer who sets out on a walking holiday and finds himself allied with a cynical Modern poet and a gang of Glasgow street boys defending an exiled Russian princess from her enemies, but on my most recent revisiting of it, I found myself wondering whet...more

See my review to "Prester John" for more detail about the author, John Buchan.

This review will also encompass the entire Dickson McCunn series, "Huntingtower," "Castle Gay," and "The House of the Four Winds."

We've only really begun to scratch the surface of Buchan's writings, but this hero, Dic...more

I first read this book many years ago after seeing a very good BBC production on TV. It’s a rollicking good adventure yarn. I then read it a couple of years ago on my Sony E-Reader; which was brilliant because in the Oxford English Dictionary pre-installed on my e-reader, I found definitions for...more

I really dig Buchan for some reason. Great adventure stories with tons of period details (he seems to know every general, battle, and politician of the era). And that's despite the ridiculously out-of-date imperialist, colonial-era biases and stereotypes that he is mired in.

Still, these are quic...more

One of the best books I've read this year.


I didn't think Buchan was capable of writing a bad book, but this comes pretty close: preposterous, vague backstory, and tediously overwrought intrigue suspense make for a boy's own adventure fit only for the dimmest of lads.

A rip-roaring adventure, marred by the ugliness of Buchan's anti-Semitism. The damsel in distress was pursued by people who wanted to get the jewels with which she had been entrusted. "But behind them were the Jews, and behind the Jews our unsleeping enemies." (page 120)

What I find really chillin...more

A very enjoyable short read packed full of adventure and altruistic actions. The protagonist (a retired grocer taking a holiday in the Highlands) battles with his conscience, going against all he has abided by his whole life, in the name of justice, romance and euphoria. Buchan finds warmth in th...more

I gave up on this at 30%. It's a strange little book.

It was a clever, interesting story at first, but as the dialect got broader and broader I got fed up with it. Having lived in England and having had Scottish friends, as well as vacationing in various areas of Scotland (not even mentioning TV)...more

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