Veteran soldier and secret agent Richard Hannay is set to make a comeback, more than a century after he first appeared in John Buchan’s thriller The Thirty-Nine Steps.
The first John Buchan novel in more than seven decades will be celebrated at an event at the John Buchan Story in Peebles on June 13.
Buchan died in 1940 but St Andrews‐based author Robert J Harris has brought his hero Richard Hannay back to the fray in a gripping WW2 adventure, The Thirty-One Kings.
It is the novel that Buchan never wrote. In his final book, completed on the eve of war in 1939, he speculated as to the role characters such as Hannay or Sandy Clanroyden might play in the coming conflict.
Harris has risen to the challenge, producing a fast‐paced thriller that sees Hannay (first introduced in The Thirty‐Nine Steps) back in service, tracking down a missing agent as the German army advances towards Paris in 1940. Old friends and new allies join him in a helter‐skelter chase across France.
The inspiration for a new Hannay adventure came after Harris read the final passage of Buchan’s last novel, Sick Heart River, which was also set after the outbreak of the war. Its hero, Sir Edward Leithen, reflects that many of his old friends, including Hannay, will be serving their country again.
Published this month in paperback by Polygon, home of the authorised edition of Buchan’s novels, the Thirty-One Kings will be launched with an in‐conversation event in the heart of Buchan country.
Author Robert J Harris says: ‘It has been a privilege to bring John Buchan’s wonderful characters back to life and I look forward to sharing that experience with other admirers of his in this the best of all possible settings’.
Ian Buckingham, of the John Buchan Story, says: ‘Our museum features many aspects of Buchan’s life and his stories, and we are delighted that we can now add a further chapter to the life of Richard Hannay.’
Early reviews have been so enthusiastic that a sequel, Castle McNab, set in the Scottish Highlands will be published in October.
The Thirty-One Kings will be launched at John Buchan Story The Chambers Institution, Peebles at 6pm on June 13.
The event is free, but ticketed. To reserve a ticket, contact Ian Buckingham on 07835 149 706.