There are three great things here, the first is that I’ve finally read this book (and thoroughly enjoyed it), the second is that I’ve read it in June (when it’s set) and the third is that I’m actually writing a review almost as soon as I’ve finished!
So it’s May and Richard Hannay is in London from South Africa and is bored to tears, he gives himself one more day to find excitement before he gives in and heads back home.
Luck is on his side, waiting for him on his doorstep is a man he’s never seen before but who has been watching him and needs his help. Scudder, an American, tells Hannay a remarkable story about a conspiracy to assassinate the Greek Premier at a Foreign Office tea party on the 15th of June, he knows too much and is being watched. He stays for a couple of days, reading and smoking and filling Hannay in on more details – about a man with a lisp, another who can hood his eyes like a hawk and Black Stone. But on the 23rd of May Hannay returns to his flat and finds him ‘skewered to the floor’ with a long knife through his heart. He finds Scudder’s black notebook of evidence and determines to finish the game.
There are 20 days until June 15th and realising he’s in the soup with both Scudder’s enemies (because he knows too much) and the police (who will be after him for his murder) Hannay decides to vanish to the wilds of Scotland and so catches the 7.10 train from St.Pancras to Galloway.
Across moorland, through thatched villages their gardens blazing with hawthorn, over meadows, high heather covered hills and peaceful lowland streams it’s not just the thrill of the chase, John Buchan paints a picturesque scene as Richard Hannay races from one adventure to the next, using his wits and the help of some eccentric locals (or are they?)
37 years old and ‘sound of wind and limb’ Hannay is such good company, he can manage to say things like: ‘Now my life on the veld has given me the eyes of a kite, and I can see things for which most men need a telescope . . .’ and get away with it! But the big question is, how is he going to catch the ‘moorland desperadoes’ when he has no idea who they are and what or who is Black Stone?
Luckily he remembers some advice given to him years earlier about the art of disguise, ‘A fool tries to look different: a clever man looks the same and is different.’ Can he find the people who are playing their hand too realistically?
This was lots of fun and has a terrific denouement!