The Sparroworkers and their “special” friends have a liking for the somewhat outmoded, but jolly exciting, books of John Buchan, Lord Tweedsmuir, one-time Governor General of Canada and all round fine upstanding Scottish gentleman.
Six of us irregularly meet for a fishing and whisky tasting and conversational expedition in Scotland (or Québec) where we take on the tweedy mantle of the Buchaneers … Good Chuminess in 39 Steps
The Buchaneers being …
“He found himself ushered into a fair-sized room where a bright fire was burning. On a table lay the remains of breakfast, and the odour of food mingled pleasantly with the scent of peat. The horns and heads of big game, foxes’ masks, the model of a gigantic salmon, and several bookcases adorned the walls, and books and maps were mixed with decanters and cigar-boxes on the long sideboard. After the wild out of doors the place seemed the very shrine of comfort. A young man sat in an arm-chair by the fire with a leg on a stool; he was smoking a pipe, and reading the Field, and on another stool at his elbow was a pile of new novels. He was a pleasant brown-faced young man, with remarkably smooth hair and a roving humorous eye.”
“People trusted him, because, in spite of his hidalgo-ish appearance, he was believed to have that combination of candour and intelligence which England desires in her public men”.
“He did not think of nymphs and goddesses or of linnets in spring; still less did he plunge into the depths of a subconscious self which he was not aware of possessing. The unromantic epithet which rose to his lips was ‘jolly’.” John Macnab
Janet’s family, the Radens, have been on the land for thousands of years – there was a Raden with Robert Bruce and a Raden died beside the king at Flodden, and the dig for the presumed tomb of a Viking ancestor, Harald Blacktooth, also features in the novel’s plot.
Retired Glasgow grocer
“I’m going back to Blaweary”, said Dickson, “to count my mercies. I’m going to catch a wheen salmon,and potter about my bits of fields, and read my books, and sit by my fireside. And to the last of my day of my life I’ll be happy, thinking of the grand things I’ve seen and the grand places I’ve been in. Ay, and the grand friends I’ve known – the best of all.”
Determined to uncover what is going on behind the strange occurrences involves the two in unexpected and dangerous adventures — spiriting away a collection of precious jewels, shooting a local solicitor and leading a gang of Gorbals urchins who are camping in the area — all of which are but a prelude to a deadly confrontation with foreign agents who have crossed Europe on a quest that has finally brought them to the gates of Huntingtower
Hilda von Einem
International beautiful master spy and secret agent. Being a secret agent there is little known about her except that she is “not one of us” and so there is free reign to develop the character as thought fit. Being a spy, accurate likenesses are hard to find, but we believe this her.
“I have met the Frau von Einem, and that lady’s a very different proposition. The man that will understand her has got to take a biggish size in hats. It isn’t what she has been, but what she is, and that’s a mighty clever woman.’ – Greenmantle
Barbara Clanroyden could not under any circumstances be pathetic; her airy grace was immune from the attacks of fate; she might bend, but she would never break.
“Barbara went back to bed” – The Courts of the Morning
Sir Walter Bullivant
A senior mandarin at the Foreign Office in the years leading up to the Great War. He is the archetypal spymaster — gruff, acutely conscious of his duty, yet thoughtful and kindly towards those he sends into peril.