Read The Return of John MacNab by Andrew Greig Online

the-return-of-john-macnab adventure, a poacher's handbook, a romance and a moving story of loss and renewal.When three friends decide to revive the challenge of the legendary poacher John Macnab (to take a grouse, salmon and deer from three Royal Estates), they plan for everything - except an unstoppable young woman with a past and time on her hands. Bold, adventure, a poacher's handbook, a romance and a moving story of loss and renewal.When three friends decide to revive the challenge of the legendary poacher John Macnab (to take a grouse, salmon and deer from three Royal Estates), they plan for everything - except an unstoppable young woman with a past and time on her hands. Bold, sassy, impulsive, with a taste for a good time, flirtation and strong drink, Kirsty Fowles very nearly gets the better of everyone....

Title : The Return of John MacNab
Author :
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ISBN : 9780571212583
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Return of John MacNab Reviews

  • Ian Brydon
    2019-02-10 13:12

    The judgement of history has not been entirely kind to the First Baron Tweedsmuir, as John Buchan became known following the ennoblement that accompanied his appointment in 1935 as Governor general of Canada. Now remembered principally for his thriller [The Thirty-Nine Steps], a classic rollicking spy story that has been brought to the cinema or television screen many times (though never once in a version that does justice to the original), Buchan is often pilloried as the embodiment of the worst vices of Britain's imperial past. This is, I think, unfair. It is true that some of his characters offer what now appear to be regrettably racist remarks, though they were sadly representative of views more widely prevalent at the time of his writing.Despite the enduring success and popularity of [The Thirty-Nine Steps], and the other novels featuring the slightly wooden and self-regarding heroism of Richard Hannay, I consider that his abiding masterpiece is [John Macnab], one of my favourite novels ever. Even this marvellously written book does not escape from critical consideration entirely unscathed. Buchan's prose is beautifully pellucid, concise and elegant, and lends an effortless grace to the story. It is, however, a paean to an age of Corinthian values largely of Buchan's own imagining. One feels that even the finest knights of King Arthur's Camelot might have struggled to live up to the values espoused by Sir Edward Leithen and his comrades. That is, of course, no reason not to try, and the book resonates with nobility without ever falling prey to the cloying self-righteousness that might so readily have claimed it if Buchan had not been such a masterful writer and observer of the human condition.Andrew Greig's novel [The Return of John Macnab] brings Buchan's Corinthian view bang up to date, with three friends deciding to revive the poacher's challenge in a manner appropriate for the end of the century. The three challengers are of a very different cast from Buchan's trio. Neil Lindores is the analogue for Sir Edward Leithen, the intellectual power house (- yes, a quiet Buchanesque pun for the cognoscenti) and emotional touchstone of the new trio, and perhaps the closest resemblance to a Buchan character. He is partnered with Alasdair Sutherland, a former Special Services operative, and Murray, a would be political activist who has gradually lost his fire as family responsibilities exert their force. This is to be the last major prank for the three of them before middle age take its toll.Following Buchan's original, the three issue challenges to a selection of Highland landowners signed in the cognomen 'John Macnab' undertaking to bag a salmon, brace of grouse and a stag respectively. The three estates to which the challenges are issued are, however, rather different from those in Buchan's novel: the first is owned by a Moroccan prince, the second by a consortium of billionaires headed by a Dutch merchant banker, while the third is the royal estate of Balmoral.In Buchan's book, the driving force behind the challenge was the feeling of ennui suffered by the three would be poachers. In Greig's novel, there are slightly different motives behind the prank. Neil has been burdened by grief following the sudden death of his wife four years earlier; Alasdair is driven by misdirected rage arising from his failing relationship with his wife; Murray wants to strike a blow for the rights of the common man, and to puncture the hegemony of absentee landowners over much of the land in the Highlands.Buchan's three campaigners find themselves being helped by Fish Benjie and, later, Crosby, a journalist who is also 'a bit of a sportsman'. Greig's three protagonists find themselves unmasked early on by Kirsty Fowler, a local journalist who is fleeing from demons in her own past and who more or less hijacks their plans, with devastating consequences.Although not written in prose quite as beautiful as Buchan's, Greig's novel stands as a rattling good read in its own right, and a powerful act of homage to the earlier work. I rather fancy that, given suitably sympathetic treatment, they might both make enchanting films.For anyone wishing to know more about both books I would refer you to John Corbett's gloriois review, written in Lowland Scots dialect available at:

  • Gillian
    2019-02-09 11:04

    I love love love the original Buchan. First read the copy that was my dad's 10th birthday present from his granny as a precocious 8 year old child, and probably didn't understand half the vocabulary or sentiments, but have re read several times since. Still great as an adult, although I don't have to say Scotland has moved on from the 1920s. Grieg obviously loved it too - it was a great idea to try and modernize it, and his plot and land descriptions are very good, but I personally found something about his characters' dialogue stilted and off key throughout (I'm a native of Dee valley so....). As a consequence, I couldn't relate to any of them. Real pity

  • Vikas Datta
    2019-01-29 12:48

    A fantastic re-telling of Buchan's classic for the modern day.... Mr Greig is a dab, deft hand at conjuring up images of the Scottish countryside, the people, and their lingo in his masterful prose, and skillfully refashioning the characters and working in new elements that modernise the story and make it an irresistible read...

  • Jessica Gagné
    2019-02-12 15:54

    One of my favourite all time books - a kind of adventure story for grown ups with bonus left wing overtones

  • Jack Deighton
    2019-01-28 09:14

    This, Greig’s second novel, takes as its template John Buchan’s John Macnab. Once again three men – but this time not “gentlemen” – form an alliance to poach a salmon, a brace of grouse and a stag respectively from three different estates, Mavor, Inchallian and Balmoral, and then deliver the poached items back to the “owners”, as a challenge to “absentee landowners and the Criminal Justice Act” and as a wager to the three estates’ owners; issuing a statement to this effect in the Scotsman newspaper. The “John Macnab” here comprises at first Neil Lindores, Murray Hamilton and Alasdair Sutherland, each with his own special talent useful for the enterprise, but not long after arriving in “a small Highland town” Lindores is sussed out by local journalist Kirsty Fowler who is excited by the project and offers to help them.Greig’s background in climbing comes to the fore in his description of the scramble needed to get to the pool for the salmon poach and his life as a poet in the sentence, “Seldom had a celebration broken up so fast, as if someone had announced an evening of performance poetry would commence in thirty seconds.” His descriptions of landscape are loving and there is the odd reflection on the condition of Scotland. On feeling himself squeezed as at the narrow waist of an hour-glass with more past than future as the minutes ran through Neil thinks, “What a depressingly Scottish image. Its negativity was another thing that was true about his country. It went along with tholing, bearing, putting up with, and taking a certain satisfaction in the expected bad news when it came.” Yes indeed. That’s Calvinism for you. Neil does go on, though, to sense “it was a wrong picture. He was groping for another, still true but more affirmative.” At another point, “He hugged Murray. This was a first - they were Scottish, after all.”The big problem John Macnab faces here is Balmoral. It is late summer and HRH is in residence. Consequently the place is hoaching with Special Services, Army and Police as well as the usual ghillies and gamekeepers. The authorities cannot ignore the possibility that John Macnab is merely a cover for a terrorist attempt on HRH’s life.The text occasionally refers to Buchan’s novel, as it has to, and even critiques it in mentioning that Buchan’s women are really just chaps – though with (small) breasts. Greig’s intent is somewhat different; and his women are certainly far from chaps. Kirsty is as rounded and complex a character as you could wish (such women are a common factor in Greig’s novels) and is thoroughly involved in the poaching efforts – as are Sutherland’s and Hamilton’s wives and the former’s family - at least in the second one. Sutherland’s wife, though she has had an affair tells Kirsty she would kill him if he were to do the same. Ellen Stobo, a policewoman attached to the security services but who finds herself coming to an understanding of John Macnab, is also well drawn. To be fair to Buchan he was writing adventure tales for a male audience in a time that was less aware. Greig is by far the better examiner of the human condition though.The John Macnab template - while driving the events of the plot - at times gets in the way of Greig’s greater facility with personal relationships but in the end his own concerns overwhelm Buchan’s. Still, he nearly overdoes it, veering very close to the tradition of the Scottish sentimental novel (compare Iain Banks’s Espedair Street,) in the final pages. But he is too canny to yield a conventional ending.That template means that The Return of John Macnab is not quite up there with Greig’s best - all the other novels of his I have read - but for an exploration of human uncertainties, hesitations, lust for life and willingness to take risks, emotional as well as physical, it’s still pretty damn good.

  • Naomi Bayer
    2019-02-10 08:53

    Prank heist adventure in the Scottish Highlands. This is a retelling of the original book from the 1920s. Has a Thomas Crowne Affair feel to it. Fun summer read.

  • Monthly Book Group
    2019-02-06 17:09

    On the positive side, it is a bright idea to update the Buchan novel, and Greig has cleverly brought it into a modern setting. It has more of a political edge, but remains a page-turner. He has a real feel for the modern Scottish Highlands, and a deep knowledge of mountains and mountain sports. Some of the descriptive writing is good, reflecting his background as a poet. His philosophical reflection on metaphors for life – not like the sand disappearing through an hour-glass, but like a tree putting on rings of experience, and at its broadest before dying – was engaging. Kirsty - taking on and developing the journalist role played in the original by Crossby - is an excellent and very intriguing character. Her relationship with Neil, and Neil’s struggle to move on from the death of his wife, has the stamp of authenticity. The author creates a fine climax, with a real sense of drama and danger of death (although the gravity of the danger jarred with the jesting tenor of the rest). And the cameo appearance of Prince Charles is amusing.Alas, we also had plenty to say on the negative side. The relentlessly jaunty, would-be-youthful, tone grates. Some of the dialogue hits false notes. The coherence of the tale is lost as he endlessly explores the relationship problems of the protagonists. He even indulges in some passages of Housemanesque self-pity on behalf of a narrator who, confusingly and unnecessarily, does not identify himself until the end. And it grates to have the novel end with a plug for the follow-up.Kirsty and Neil do seem real characters with an interesting hinterland (perhaps based on people known to the author or his own experience). However, most of the other characters are either stereotypes (Murray), implausible (Alasdair and Jane and their unconvincing reunion on the moors), or politically correct (the lesbian Shonagh and the Arab Aziz). And does he need to harp on so obsessively about Buchan’s praise of boys and small-breasted women? There was a feeling that Greig – who started off writing poetry and climbing literature, and had written a good book on golf courses - was not too comfortable writing fiction. Perhaps that was why he had hit on the idea of doing a “remake” of the plot of someone else’s book? …..This is an extract from a review at Our reviews are also to be found at

  • David Kintore
    2019-01-20 12:57

    Neil, the main character in The Return of John Macnab, is a terrific laidback half-dreamer half-cynic. He has been emotionally numb since the sudden unexpected death of his wife Helen four years earlier. Although he hasn’t sunk into a cold and misanthropic retreat from the world, he has not been really alive until the mid-life crisis escapade that he hatches with three of his old climbing buddies. ”Neil walked towards the Atholl through the end of the gloaming. The hills were black humps against a paler sky and the night air was blowing hills and heather and adventure down into the valley… He’d been becalmed, stuck, for a long time. Ever since Helen. Now he felt like a wind-filled sail.”As in Andrew Greig’s Electric Brae, there are a few caustic observations on the state of the author’s nation. Describing the dated decor of the local hostelry, he observes on a wall “another stag’s head, absurd and so familiar, its stilled cry something else about his country that was true.” There is also plenty good stuff on the archaic reality of land ownership in Scotland and the struggle for access rights. All is delivered, though, not in a hectoring, pompously self-righteous tone but rather with a quiet, understated passion. The Return of John Macnab is wonderfully written, funny and sad and uplifting.

  • Diana
    2019-01-19 08:48

    This is a modern day version of John Buchan's hugely enjoyable 1930s novel John Macnab, in which three London gentlemen attempt to dispel their summer ennui by adding a bit of spice to their comfortable, privileged lives. They present themselves as John Macnab and issue a challenge to three Scottish landowners: that they will poach a salmon and two deer from their estates and then deliver the ill-gotten gains back to their owners without being caught. Andrew Greig's version manages to retain all the adventure, wit, humour and romance of the original while adding a few ingredients of his own: a far more diverse and fully realised set of characters, beautifully poetic language, political edge, philosophical musings and a moving story of loss and renewal. Ideal for holiday-reading in Scotland, while you sit in your freezing cottage and peer out through the rain and mist, which clears occasionally revealing a glimpse of heathery hill-top and the odd shivering highland coo....

  • David Campton
    2019-02-01 17:03

    A rollicking, rip-roaring Highland adventure story that isn't just a boys' own adventure. I haven't read the original Buchan book, but that didn't diminish my enjoyment, indeed, much as I love Buchan, this book carefully avoids, if not subverts many of the conservative attitudes and values in Buchan that I frequently have difficulties with. All the characters are well drawn, the plot is inventive (not having read the original I am not sure whether that is down to Buchan or Greig), and I could see it making a great movie.

  • Rog Harrison
    2019-01-27 11:01

    I enjoyed the John Buchan novel so I thought I would try this modern (1996) version. It was an exciting read though I was a little disappointed with the ending. I doubt I will read any more of this author's books.

  • Catherine
    2019-02-04 09:55

    A proper yarn with lovely lovely writing to be enjoyed from start to finish. Complex characters and great plot and if you're a John Buchan fan too like I am… :-) got another Andrew Greig lined up right here :-)

  • Steve M
    2019-01-19 10:55

    A most enjoyable yarn written by a master wordsmith.

  • Peter Jowers
    2019-01-19 11:11

    An entertaining read. Must look for the original John Buchan tale!