mccunn_duncan_bk_h mccunn_duncan_bk_thotfw mccunn_duncan_bk_cg
Full Name: Dickson McCunn
Nationality: British
Organization: None
Occupation Other - Retired Grocer

Creator: John Buchan
Time Span: 1922 - 1935


Dickson McCunn is a retired grocer.

Of all the occupations of those not trained in the spycraft of the cloak and dagger world, there are a couple which have stood out as totally incongruous with the idea of trenchcoat-wearing denizens of dark alleyways. One of those is certain that which McCunn proudly admits to. He ran a grocery store.

When we first meet McCunn, this 55-year-old man of Scotland is feeling extremely pleased with himself, proud that after some time he had made the momentous (for him) change of habit from using a straight razor to shave himself in the morning to using one of those new safety razors. He is quite satisfied looking in the mirror and not seeing "a countenance ludicrously mottled by sticking plaster". More than that, he calculates that had he been using the device which allows him to shave in five minutes versus the previous 20, he would have saved, in the years since he first started shaving at 18, 3,370 hours. This sort of calculation of what would seem a simple sort of thing is why he was able to retire when he did.

McCunn, we will learn over time, knows how to embrace and enjoy the smaller things in life.

In description, it is said of McCunn that his "was not an old face. The sandy hair was a little thin on the top and a little grey at the temples, the figure was perhaps a little too full for youthful elegance, and an athlete would have censured the neck as too fleshy for perfect health. But the cheeks were rosy, the skin clear, and the pale eyes singularly childlike. They were a little weak, those eyes, and had some difficulty in looking for long at the same object, so that Mr. McCunn did not stare people in the face, and had, in consequence, at one time in his career acquired a perfectly undeserved reputation for cunning. He shaved clean, and looked uncommonly like a wise, plump schoolboy."

Having recently (less than a week before) sold his small chain of "provision shops", McCunn is "comfortably off, healthy, free from any particular cares in life, but free too from any particular duties". He is pleased, of course, but also wondering if he was "going to turn into a useless old man". He has no idea how his life going to change soon thereafter.

A walking holiday will take him and a new friend to visit a supposedly haunted house complete with a singing ghost in an adventure which will conclude with them going up against Bolshevik assassins after a Russian princess. A simple invitation to a good meal for a couple of new acquaintances will lead to his helping protect a dethroned monarch from communist killers. And a innocent correspondence with that same leader will open the way to his again trying to save his friend's life from even more anarchists wanting to rid the world of all royalty.

It makes one wonder if McCunn did not at times miss his days of stocking shelves and handling ledgers.


Number of Books:3
First Appearance:1922
Last Appearance:1935

     While John Buchan started writing just over a dozen short stories and novelettes for publication in magazines such as Blackwood's, when he came out with his first novel, The Thirty-Nine Steps, he would stick with Richard Hannay and his friend for a half decade before trying someone else. That someone else was Dickson McCunn.

1 Huntingtower Huntingtower
Written by John Buchan
Copyright: 1922

First published in Popular Magazine, Aug. - Sep. 1921, and then in The London Magazine, Dec. 1921 - Jul. 1922, before being released in book format in 1922.
After he sold his successful grocery-store business, Dickson McCunn takes a walking holiday in the Galloway region of Scotland. At an inn he meets a poet and ex-soldier named Heritage. Together they will come upon a deserted large house called Huntingtower. Though the place is supposed to be empty, they can hear a woman singing. Intrigued, they will investigate and that will get McCunn deeply involved in a matter of international intrigue involving an escaped Russian princess and Bolshevik hunters on the hunt for her and her jewels.
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2 Castle Gay Castle Gay
Written by John Buchan
Copyright: 1930

Dickson McCunn, now 60, hosts a supper for two of his friends, Jaikie Gait ant Dougal Crombie, who are taking a walking holiday in the region. They will become involved in the possible abduction of a publisher and influential writer who has great interest in the troubles in the European country of Evallonia. That nation is undergoing civil distress with monarchists determined to re-seat a ruler over the current democratic government. McCunn's personal part in the matter will involve his trying to help Prince John, the would-be ruler, escape intended assassination by communist hunting him.
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3 The House Of The Four Winds The House Of The Four Winds
Written by John Buchan
Copyright: 1935

Taking place two years after the previous adventure, this tells of Dickson McCunn and several of his friends who are each planning separate trips to the Continent. Each will in their own way get re-involved in the troubles in Evallonia. McCunn's role will see him again trying to keep his friend, Prince John, alive though the dangers will come from both the communists and some monarchists less than happy with the Prince.
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Many years ago I added to the site the exceptional stories about Richard Hannay; his admission to this site was only delayed because I did not handle series from before 1946 (post-WWII only) for the first few years of the site.

Not too long after I did finally give Hannay his own page, I was asked when I would do a couple of his contemporaries like Dickson McCunn. I replied that IMHO he did not fit. I was wrong then. He, again IMHO, does belong so here he is.

I got a kick out of the fact that McCunn was not out to get involved with spies and saboteurs and anarchists, and certainly not perceived ghosts! He was a retired grocer who like to take really long hikes. I have never been a big fan of long hikes and if I thought there was a chance of running into the kind of trouble that McCunn and friends encountered, I'd make sure I stayed home!


My Grade: B


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