When a storm in wrecked on a rocky Highland coast in a wild night, Charlie MacIan drags a drowning seaman out of the pounding waves. The seaman is clinging to a wooden chest. Brought into shelter, he is found to be dead but was his death accidental? And did the chest once contain money? These questions hang like a threat over the various members of a small community struggling to keep life going on a hard, relentless coast. It is a mystery in which Neil Gunn displays his skills as a writer of depth and subtlety and we emerge from the tale asking questions about the nature and meaning of community itself, and how it can survive in a bewildering and violent modernity."
Neil Miller Gunn was born in Dunbeath, one of the nine children of 'bookish' Isabella Miller, and James Gunn, a fishing skipper of local renown. In 1911, he began 26 years as an excise officer, many of them at whisky distilleries in the Highlands and the Islands. In 1921, Gunn married Jessie Frew. The first of his 21 novels, "The Grey Coast," appeared in 1926. In 1937, the acclaim won by his seventh, the prize-winning" Highland River," encouraged him to resign his excise post and write full-time. Gunn's wife died in 1963, and he lived alone in the Black Isle until his death. Since then, his standing as one of Scotland's finest novelists had become even more firmly established, and the Neil Gunn International Fellowship has been founded in his honor.