When Abercombie Lewker's beloved vintage auto suffers an accident at the hands of a reckless lorry driver he takes "the Dowager" in for hopeful repairs. The mechanic gives him bad news. She's a goner. Then the mechanic, Ted Pirner, starts talking of his hobby as a mountaineering guide. He's looking forward to a trip to Austria, to be exact his parents' home province of South Tirol. Lewker becomes nostalgic for his more active globetrotting days and his own mountain climbing adventures, most of which included some unfortunate murders and some amateur sleuthing. A discussion with Georgie, his wife, and a fellow thespian in his acting troupe decides him to make one last climb. And so he heads off to climb the Zuckerhütl in the Stubai Alps of southeastern Austrian.
Technically, he begins in Italian territory and will cross over into Austria. For we soon learn of some interesting history about Tirol -- how it was split back in 1915 and the southernmost portion annexed to Italy. At the end of WW2 the Austrians were hoping that it would be returned to them, but somehow it was utterly overlooked at the treaty talks, though Italy and Austria worked out an arrangement to recognize the rights of the German speaking population that remained in South Tirol. But a rivalry bordering on hatred still exists at the time of the novel's action and there are signs of dangerous activism intermingled with terrorism.
|Zuckerhütl, 3,505 metres (11,499 feet) The highest peak of the Stubai Alps|
The Junge Adler (Young Eagles), a German speaking activist group who oppose the still valid annexation of South Tirol to Italy, are becoming violent. Bombs have been set off in the mountains, shootings have taken place at mountaineering parties. All of this in order that attention be drawn to the Junge Adler's cause of returning South Tirol to Austria. Lewker is warned of this activity prior to his setting foot on his tour. His guide, Josef Herkomer, was the most recent victim of these attacks. Josef assures Lewker he will be safe. He cannot imagine another attack would take place so soon. Little do they know.
The mountain climbing sections are intricately described. The climate, the terrain, the history are all neatly woven into the action sequences. We also get the inside dope on a rivalry that exists between Josef and Mario Papi, an Italian guide who happens to be in love with Josef's daughter. This can only mean trouble in a crime novel. When another shooting occurs and one of the guides is wounded in the mountains we know that perhaps there is something a little more than terrorist activity going on in the Alps. Lewker does a fine job of sorting out just who is trying to do in whom. When the expected fatality does occur he offers his assistance to the local police and gets to the bottom of the criminal activity.
|Showell Styles, AKA Glyn Carr|
Several of the Glyn Carr books have been reissued by Rue Morgue Press and are marked with an asterisk in the bibliography at the end of this article. Lewker in Tirol is, however, not one of the reissued titles.
And what's a visit to Austria without some local music? Here are Die Mayrhofner singing about the Zillertal, their home, which is not actually featured in Carr's book but it's in the same Bundesland of Tirol.
For other visits to Austria and more criminal depictions in its gorgeous surroundings be sure to visit Mysteries in Paradise, our host blog for this whirlwind trip through Europe.
The Abercrombie Lewker detective novels
*Murder on the Matterhorn (1951)
*The Youth Hostel Murders (1952)
The Corpse in the Crevasse (1952)
*Death under Snowdon (1954)
A Corpse at Camp Two (1955)
Murder of an Owl (1956)
Swing Away, Climber (1956)
The Ice Axe Murders (1958)
Holiday with Murder (1960)
*Death Finds a Foothold (1961)
Lewker in Norway (1963)
Death of a Weirdy (1965)
Lewker in Tirol (1967)
Fat Man's Agony (1969)