Castle Gay (John Buchan, 1930)

Craw is a shy and reclusive (you might even say borderline-agoraphobic) newspaper man, but for all his timidity in person, he’s a firebrand with his pen. His papers are the most widely read in Britain and his opinions exert no small influence over the public. It’s this which attracts the Evallonian royalists to him. A republic since the war, the small eastern European country of Evallonia is embroiled in conflict and in the middle of a possible regime change, and Prince John wants Craw’s help to sway the League of Nations in his favor. The republicans, meanwhile, want to catch the Prince with his pants down — grovelling to the foreign press in an effort to overthrow the legitimate government.

Confronting either is a terrifying prospect for Craw, and not without danger, for the republicans are a ruthless bunch. Castle Gay, Craw’s Scottish retreat, is virtually besieged by the Evallonians and by rival reporters, eager to interview the influential recluse. It’s a sticky situation, but not beyond Jaikie. Jaikie is a local Scottish boy who’s at home on break from Cambridge and quite accidentally finds himself Craw’s guardian. Jaikie and his friends remove the Evallonians with minimal scandal, and Craw breaks through his shell and discovers the confidence to confront his opponents in person as well as on the page.

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