Abercrombie Lewker, an experienced if unlikely mountaineer, is about to embark on a climbing holiday in the Swiss Alps when he’s persuaded by his old chief at Department Seven to change his itinerary to Zermatt, where Léon Jacot, a French national hero and sportsman who is about to enter politics, is climbing the Matterhorn. Lewker is charged with finding out whether Jacot will be aligning himself with or against the Communists, an issue of grave concern to England. But shortly after Lewker’s arrival, Jacot plunges to his death in an ill-advised solo ascent of the fabled mountain, and it now falls to Lewker to keep Herr Schultz of the Swiss police from arresting the wrong suspect from among the many who had reason to want Jacot dead. Originally published in 1951, it’s the second detective novel featuring the rotund Shakespearean actor-manager Abercrombie Lewker. The author, whose real name was Showell Styles, was himself an accomplished climber who made brilliant use of mountainous settings in his fiction.
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