After distinguished service in the First World War, Richard Hannay settles into peaceful domesticity with his wife Mary and their young son. However, news comes to him of three kidnappings. With no more than a few tantalisingly cryptic lines of verse as clues, he is soon on the trail of Dominick Medina - a charismatic polymath but a man 'utterly and consumedly wicked'. As Hannay uncovers an international plot to twist innocent minds through hypnotism and blackmail, it appears that he has met his match in one of Buchan's most memorable villains.
That evening, I remember, as I came up through the Mill Meadow, I was feeling peculiarly happy and contented. It was still mid-March, one of those spring days when noon is like May, and only the cold pearly haze at sunset warns a man that he is not done with winter. The season was absurdly early, for the blackthorn was in flower and the hedge roots were full of primroses. The partridges were paired, the rooks were well on with their nests, and the meadows were full of shimmering grey flocks of fieldfares on their way north. I put up half a dozen snipe on the boggy edge of the stream, and in the bracken in Sturn Wood I thought I saw a woodcock, and hoped that the birds might nest with us this year, as they used to do long ago. It was jolly to see the world coming to life again, and to remember that this patch of England was my own, and all these wild things, so to speak, members of my little household.