"Sick Heart River" is John Buchan's most powerful novel and his last, completed days before his death. It was published posthumously in 1941. Buchan's rich descriptions of the rugged Canadian Northwest Territories are influenced by his real-life voyage down the Mackenzie River in 1937. At that time, Buchan was Governor-General of Canada. The main character, the lawyer and politician Sir Edward Leithen - perhaps the most autobiographical of Buchan's characters - has been diagnosed with advanced tuberculosis and has been given a year to live. A former colleague, American John S. Blenkiron, requests help to find his niece's husband, who appears to have flown from his very successful financial career to the Canadian north. Leithen agrees to help.
One of Alfred Hitchcock's favourite writers, John Buchan was a Scottish diplomat, barrister, journalist, historian, poet and novelist. He published nearly 30 novels and seven collections of short stories. He was born in Perth, an eldest son, and studied at Glasgow and Oxford. In 1901 he became a barrister of the Middle Temple and a private secretary to the High Commissioner for South Africa. In 1907 he married Susan Charlotte Grosvenor and they subsequently had four children. After spells as a war correspondent, Lloyd George's Director of Information and Conservative MP, Buchan moved to Canada in 1935. He served as Governor General there until his death in 1940.