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Sick Heart River was John Buchan's most powerful novel, completed just days before his death in Canada and published posthumously in 1941. The rich, authentic descriptions of the rugged Canadian landscape were influenced by a voyage down the Mackenzie River in 1937, at which time Buchan was Governor-General of Canada. Lawyer and politician Sir Edward Leithen - perhaps the most autobiographical of Buchan's characters - is asked by a former colleague to find his niece's husband who has disappeared into the Canadian wilderness. Despite being diagnosed with advanced tuberculosis and given just a year to live he agrees to help.