Twelve stories comprise John Buchan’s last collection of short stories, a classic of British interwar short fiction written from 1913 to 1927.
Buchan’s most popular character Richard Hannay battles an ancient curse in South Africa in `The Green Wildebeest’ and Edward Leithen tags along in an assassins’ war in `Sing a Song of Sixpence’. The Runagates Club features First World War spy and code-cracking thrillers `The Loathly Opposite’ and `Dr Lartius’; tales of supernatural possession in deepest Wales, comfortable Oxfordshire and the House of Commons, in `The Wind in the Portico’, Fullcircle’ and `”Tendebant Manus”‘; and stories of survival in the far North and in Depression-era Canada with `Skule Skerry’ and `Ship to Tarshish’. There is farce too, in `The Frying-Pan and the Fire’ and `”Divus” Johnston’, and the riotous journalistic romp of `The Last Crusade’ is the last word on fake news, for all eras.
What makes The Runagates Club special is that Buchan designed it as a showcase to bring together the best of his magazine fiction. He repurposed these stories with new beginnings, framing them as after-dinner stories told over the port in a late 1920s private gentleman’s dining-club. This is interwar storytelling at its very best, with a critical introduction by Kate Macdonald, a leading authority on Buchan’s writing.
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