Written by Arthur Conan Doyle and reissued by the estimable Hesperus Press, The Tragedy of the Korosko (Hesperus 121pp £6.99) is an engrossing novella that will strike a chord with every contemporary reader. Its parallels with the modern day are remarkable. In 1895, when Britain was the world's dominant power and gunboat diplomacy was at its zenith, a group of Western tourists are kidnapped by Arabs in Egypt and face imminent death. The characters may verge on the stereotypical - there's a do-gooder, an igénue, a man of action, a man of God, a one-eyed mullah, and so on - but the ways in which they change and adjust to their circumstances are well observed.
Colonel Cochrane Cochrane, accompanying the tourists on board the Nile steamer Korosko, is initially a proponent of regime change: 'The world is small and it grows smaller every day ... One spot of gangrene is enough to vitiate the whole. There's no room in it for dishonest, defaulting, tyrannical, irresponsible