Newly-retired grocer Dickson McCunn ventures out to explore the hills of southwest Scotland only to be swept into bizarre and unexpected adventures. Contrary to his better sense, Dickson becomes tangled in a plot involving a kidnapped Russian princess and a revolutionary struggle. Narrator Steven Cree's light Scottish accent adds brightness to the first in a trilogy of stories about reluctant hero Dickson. In addition to his good sense of the story's quick pace, Cree has an exceptional feel for the characters, tweaking his accent and pitch to show differences in status and origin.
Dickson McCunn, a respectable, newly retired grocer of romantic heart, plans a modest walking holiday in the hills of south-west Scotland. He meets a young English poet and, contrary to his better sense, 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, and in it Buchan introduces some of his best-loved characters, including the Gorbals Die-Hards, who reappear in later novels. He also paints a remarkable picture of a man rejuvenated by joining much younger comrades in a challenging and often dangerous fight against tyranny and fear.
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About the Author: John Buchan, Baron Tweedsmuir, was a Scottish diplomat, barrister, journalist, historian, poet and novelist. He wrote adventure novels, short-story collections and biographies. His passion for the Scottish countryside is reflected in much of his writing. Buchan's adventure stories are high in romance and are peopled by a large cast of characters. 'Richard Hannay', 'Dickson McCunn' and 'Sir Edward Leithen' are three that reappear several times. Alfred Hitchcock adapted his most famous book The Thirty-Nine Steps, featuring Hannay, for the big screen.
Born in 1875 in Perth, Buchan was the son of a minister. Childhood holidays were spent in the Borders, for which he had a great love. He was educated at Glasgow University and Brasenose College, Oxford, where he was President of the Union. Called to the Bar in 1901, he became Lord Milner's assistant private secretary in South Africa. By 1907, however, he was working as a publisher with Nelson's. During the First World War Buchan was a correspondent at the Front for The Times, as well as being an officer in the Intelligence Corps and advisor to the War Cabinet. Elected as a Conservative Member of Parliament for one of the Scottish Universities' seats in 1927, he was created Baron Tweedsmuir in 1935. From then until his death in 1940 he served as Governor General of Canada, during which time he neverthelss managed to continue writing.
Public Domain (P)2013 Steven Cree
The characters were unexceptional average guys caught in a moment that required greatness and they delivered. Humor and Suspense blended in a lovely tapestry - a great listen!
The 39 Steps, same author, written with humor and irony. I love John Buchan's books.
Every one of the "unwanted" boys. Loved them.
Laugh out loud humor. Loved it.
Well read with good characterisation
The description of the defence of the house. Vivid description building suspense.
No but will be looking out for other books.
the urchins and the princess
Well worth reading. One forgets the great skills of story telling from the classic authors.
Unlikely hero's adventure
They're all brilliant - as usual from John Buchan - but the hero, Dickson McCunn, has to be the best. Wee Jaikie, Dougal, Thomas Younie and the other Gorbals Die-Hards are just cracking characters. Buchan had a wonderful way with characterisation that I have to say, as a writer myself, I somewhat envy.
Again, all good.
The poet's entrapment in the tower, and his escape attempt had me on the edge of my seat. There were many other such moments, but that's the one I remember most clearly.
This book is classic John Buchan - ordinary people thrown into extraordinary situations and showing how anyone, in the right circumstances, can show themselves to be heroic far beyond what they would have thought possible. Memorable characters and a haunting landscape, expertly written. Can't fault it!
"Gorbals Diehards~ just brilliant"
Great to hear Scots spoken without a struggle. Loved the humour, flowing tale and the Gorbals Diehards.
The Gorbals Diehards must surely be some of the best characters ever.
Haven't read this in years and it was like getting it for the first time.
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