From Publishers Weekly
John Buchan (The 39 Steps) is the latest dead (i.e., defenseless) author turned into a character via a "found" manuscript. The result is a mildly entertaining adventure novel in ersatz Buchan style encumbered by almost 100 footnotes, a foreword, an epilogue, an editor's postscript and a glossary. The found manuscript places a young Buchan in South Africa in 1903 where, as a member of Lord Milner's Kindergarten staff, he helped oversee the transition from war (the Boer War ended in 1902) to peace. In Jones's story, Buchan is entrusted by Lord Milner with the secret and dangerous mission of locating "Kruger's gold"-a fortune that Boers had been trying to spirit out of the country when it was robbed from them and hidden. Who robbed it and where it was hidden and how to recover it are Buchan's task to discover. In his quest, Buchan meets an array of characters that might have served as prototypes for many of his best-known heroes and villains. Jones, a London journalist, displays an impressive knowledge of Buchan's works and life, but endless footnotes blunt the narrative thrust of his fair to middling homage.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Fresh from their 1902 victory in the Boer War, the British, represented by High Commissioner Lord Alfred Milner, have intercepted 800,000 headed out of Transvaal for the exiled president, Paul Kruger. But Milner is convinced that gold is only a fraction of a much larger treasure, and he orders his private political secretary and right-hand man, John Buchan, to go in search of it. Armed only with an oracular clue wrung out of a dying native--the gold is ``after the waterful''--Buchan, joined by a wily Boer named Schalk Minnaar, sets off into the bush--and straight into a boy's-adventure bonanza of confrontations, abductions, tortures, and hairbreadth escapes, alternating with stiff-upper-lip exchanges with the Huns, the kaffirs, and the occasional Iberian Portugoose racing him for Kruger's gold. Since Buchan will turn out to be the pioneering author of the Richard Hannay espionage tales (The Thirty-Nine Steps, etc.), journalist/second-novelist Jones (in his US debut) takes every opportunity to draw parallels between his own work and the Hannay saga--and to point them out in the obligatory, but hypertrophied, footnotes and editorial apparatus. The result is several hours' worth of refreshing retro exoticism, with nary a trace of political correctness, that will remind older adventure fans of Gunga Din and younger ones of Indiana Jones. Go easy on those footnotes, though, unless you're as besotted with Buchan as Jones himself. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.