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Castle Gay by John Buchan
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"Castle Gay" is the second of the novels featuring retired Glaswegian grocer Dickson McCunn along with Dougal Crombie and Jaikie Galt, erstwhile member of the Gorbals Die-Hards though both of them have now embarked on respectable careers.

This novel picks up seven or eight years after the events detailed in "Huntingtower", in which Dickson and the Gorbals Die-hards saved a Russian princess from a Bolshevik plot. Since then, Dougal Crombie, having been semi-adopted by Dickson McCunn and his wife, has completed his education and started working as a journalist on one of the many newspapers owned and edited by Thomas Carlisle Craw, a shadowy figure fabled for his obsession with maintaining his privacy. In recent years Craw has taken an increasingly dogmatic line in his editorial columns, and has perhaps over-reached himself with a series of articles criticising the actions of radicals in Evallonia, an East European state not dissimilar to Ruritania. Almost everything that Dougal most loathes is embodied in the person of Craw. Meanwhile, "Wee Jaikie" has secured a place at Cambridge University where he has revealed a supreme talent for rugby, and, in a marvellous opening chapter, scores the winning try for Scotland in an unprecedented defeat of the touring Australian team.

As Dougal and Jaikie are about to embark upon a walking tour in Galloway, Craw finds himself kidnapped in Glasgow, though, bizarrely, this proves to be a case of mistaken identity. However, even more coincidentally, Craw's house is under siege by a group of Evallonian rebels, enraged by Craw's ardent and sustained criticism of their cause, who are determined to kidnap him with a view to teahing him a lasting lesson while simultaneously securing a huge ransom with which to fund their revolutionary activities.

Buchan introduces us to a varied cast of characters ranging from Thomas Carlyle Craw, newspaper magnate, Alison Westwater (a close counterpart to Janet Raden from "John Macnab" as the last remnant of a once-great-but-now-humbled aristocratic line still eager to cast in her lot with the side of righteousness) and Mastrovin, international anarchist at large.

The plot, as ever with Buchan, depends perhaps too heavily on fortuitous coincidence, but the pace never slackens, and the reader's attention is assured throughout. And, as usual with Buchan, this is all delivered in his customary exquisite prose. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Mar 7, 2013 |
Another fun little romp with retired grocer Dickson McCunn and 2 of the now grown up lads from Huntingtower as they once again stumble across an incident of international intrigue in the Scottish countryside. There are slow moments here and there, and the Scottish dialogue can certainly be tedious if trying to have a quick enjoyable read......there is nothing quick, for me, at least, in trying to decipher what is being said in Scottish dialect. Fortunately, there is not too much of it. And as the adventure comes to its conclusion, it does get rather exciting. Just some fun in Scotland involving an old castle with some unique characters.....I'll probably follow up soon with the third and final of this series by Buchan. ( )
1 vote jeffome | Aug 12, 2011 |
"Castle Gay" is the second of the novels featuring retired Glaswegian grocer Dickson McCunn along with Dougal Crombie and Jaikie Galt, erstwhile member of the Gorbals Die-Hards but both now embarking on respectable careers.
Set in the years just following the First World War, this novel revolves around the constitutional crisis facing Evallonia, an imaginary Eastern European state not dissimilar to Ruritania. As in its predecessor, "Huntingtower", the travails of Eastern European politics are played out against the glorious landscape of Dumfries and Galloway, with a varied cast of characters ranging from Thomas Carlyle Craw, newspaper magnate, Alison Westwater (a close counterpart to Janet Raden from "John Macnab" as the last remnant of a once-great-but-now-humbled aristocratic line still eager to cast in her lot with the side of righteousness) and Mastrovin, international anarchist at large.
The plot, as ever with Buchan, depends perhaps too heavily on fortuitous coincidence, but the pace never slackens, and the reader's attention is assured throughout. And, as usual with Buchan, this is all delivered in his customary exquisite prose. ( )
1 vote Eyejaybee | May 9, 2011 |
"No. I'm not a pessimist. But I haven't been through enough bad times to justify me in being an optimist. You want to have been pretty hardly tried before you have any right to say that the world is good."
  ben_a | Nov 7, 2010 |
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Mr. Dickson McCunn laid down the newspaper, took his spectacles from his nose, and polished them with a blue-and-white spotted handkerchief.
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