John Macnab (Sir Edward Leithen #2)

By John Buchan

Rating: 4 stars

I really enjoyed this story of three successful leaders of their fields at the top of their game (a barrister, MP and banker), but listless and bored. And then they hit on the idea of writing to the owners of three Scottish estates and tell them that they’ll be poaching from the estate and collectively sign the letter John Macnab. The book is light, entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable. The pace is fairly good, the attacks on all three estates well-described and Buchan obviously loves the Highlands, since his descriptions there are extremely glowing.

Mind you, I wouldn’t recommend this to any class warriors, since the British class system is writ large throughout, with the three upper-class gentlemen always being larger than life, although the working class also get some good roles (the young Fish Benji being the best of them). If you can get past that, then I would have no hesitation in recommending this.

Book details

ISBN: 9781846970283
Publisher: Birlinn Ltd
Year of publication: 1924

The Thirty-Nine Steps

By John Buchan

Rating: 3 stars

I had read this short novelette many years ago in school but picked it up recently for the first time since. I actually really enjoyed it. It’s an early spy thriller in which Richard Hannay returns to the Old Country from the colonies and finds himself caught up in a plot to bring the whole of Europe to war.

I found myself smiling at some of the period setting in the book, so unexpected for the genre, and Hannay not only had a lot of skill, but a lot of luck to help him throughout. I enjoyed some of the descriptions of Scotland, where much of the book is set, while Hannay is trying to avoid both the gang and the police, although it’s a very different Scotland to that which I’m familiar with, of course.

A short book that can be read in in just a few hours, it’s still great fun. I only discovered that Hannay went on to star in several other books as well and will have to look out for some of those.

Book details

Publisher: Wordsworth Classics
Year of publication: 1915

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