The Lonely Skier by Hammond Innes

The Lonely Skier by Hammond Innes was first published in 1948. It was a time when there was a big market for spy/wartime thrillers. It seems that men who had come back from the war enjoyed indulging in their dangerous and exciting atmospheres, in the safety of peacetime.
The Loneliest Skier is very much in the same vein as John Buchan’s writing.

The tale is told by Neil Blair, who has been demobbed from the army and has tried his hand at a couple of businesses which failed. He’s married and has a small child, so he’s very depressed at his penniless state. When Neil bumps into an old acquaintance in a pub he jumps at the chance of the job he is offered, despite the fact that it means travelling to the Dolomites and being away from his Peggy again.

Neil had been hoping to make a career in writing, and his old friend is a big name in film making. Neil is supposed to be employed as a screen writer but that’s just a cover, his friend wants him to spy on the goings on in a mountain hut situated above Cortina in the Italian Dolomites. He’s to report on any of the people frequenting the place, and they turn out to be a dangerous bunch.

This story features Nazi crimes, a search for gold and a femme fatal. It’s a quite enjoyable read and this particular passage which Innes wrote is amazingly prescient:

Some day Germany will begin to organise again. And next time – this time – perhaps we shall not fail. Already you are saying that Germany must be prosperous so that she can take her place in the economic plan of Europe. We have no national debt like you. Each war has been paid for in the ruins of defeat. We starve now, and that means that the old people die. And that again is good for a nation. Our industry is destroyed. And that is good. Our industry, when we rebuild it, will be new and up to date, not old works adjusted to meet the changing needs like yours.

This is exactly what happened and people in Britain were left wondering who had actually won the war.

This is an enjoyable read featuring a ski chase which is a bit different and more exciting than your usual manhunt.

Books and such

I hardly dare say it, but today it didn’t rain and there was this strange yellow orb hanging in the sky. No doubt it was just an aberration and normal services will return soon – rain and storms are forecast for later in the week again. Very depressing, but I mustn’t grumble as at least we aren’t living in any of the many flooded areas of Scotland and northern England. You can read about storm Desmond here. We had intended going down to Dumfries and Carlisle for a few days before Christmas too, thank goodness I suffer from terminal procrastination otherwise we would probably have been caught up in it all. At least I’ve been getting plenty of reading done.

In the Guardian Review section this week there’s an article you might be interested in if you are into Jane Austen. Is anyone not a fan? – I ask myself. You can read How Jane Austen’s Emma changed the shape of fiction by John Mullan here.

Meanwhile, back at the library I’ve been borrowing these:

Borrowed Library Books

the distance between us by Maggie O’Farrell
A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
The Lonely Skier by Hammond Innes
Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid
Whay Matters in Jane Austen? by John Mullan

I’ve finished Go Set a Watchman which I swithered about reading but I really enjoyed and have plenty to say about it, soon I hope.

I’m annoyed about the Louise Penny book because it’s one which I somehow missed when I was working my way through the Three Pines series, so it’ll be all out of whack!