General Sir Richard Hannay is persuaded to come out of retirement when each of three important statesmen has his only child taken hostage, the youngest 10 years old. Hannay picks up a clue as to their whereabouts (by a pretty remote fluke of chance) and starts to track them down, avoiding falling under the hypnotic influence of the leader of the gang, and helped by Sandy Arbuthnot, Archie Roylance, and Turpin from earlier stories, not to mention his wife.

There are several points of interest about this book: it has the usual traits of the Buchan adventure, rapidly changing locations, dashing heroism, a damsel in distress, disguise, friendship and a certain touch of the mystic. This last comes here in the form of the hypnotic powers of Medina and his cronies, which Hannay successfully resists while feigning capitulation. The context is that of England just after the Great War, and the conversations in the various gentlemen’s clubs are revealing. The edition I read was a new reprint with no reference to the original publication date, but if it was written more or less at the time it is set, then the author seems to have predicted fairly well the rise of the despots who were to play the roles of the baddies in the war that followed.

Tim Golden is a computer programmer living in London. He is also the editor of the Good-to-Read website.