Title: The Eiger Sanction
Trevanian (1972) [pseud. Rodney William Whitaker]. The Eiger Sanction. New York: Crown Publishers
- Art teachers–Fiction.
- Eiger (Switzerland)–Fiction.
- Long Island (N.Y.)–Fiction.
Date Posted: January 24, 2017
Review by Barron Laycock
In the mid 1970s three back to back best sellers were provided by the reclusive and somewhat mysterious author who wrote under the pen name of Trevanian. The three novels were first, The Eiger Sanction, followed quickly by a sequel, The Loo Sanction, and finally, by a complete change of pace with Shibumi. Of the three, The Eiger Sanction was easily the best novel. It is, in fact, a taut and thrilling tale of a once famous mountaineer and retired government assassin turned college art history professor who is forced back into the “sanction” business both by personal greed and crude manipulation by the spymaster of the clandestine government agency that requires his services.
An American courier has been killed in Copenhagen, and he happened to an old friend of Professor Jonathan Hemlock, who is seduced back into harm’s way by “Control”, an albino ex-Nazi who now heads one of our most clandestine federal agencies. Before long Hemlock is on his way to sanction one of the two assailants, and the chase is on. By dint of coincidence, Control discovers that the other assailant is included in an international mountaineering party, which will assault Switzerland’s Eiger the coming summer. Naturally, Hemlock is manipulated into preparing for the climb as a replacement climber.
Once we finally make it to the mountain, the action is literally non-stop, quite accurate technically, and absolutely riveting to read about. The author holds our rapt attention with a plot that unfolds in a quite plausible and inevitably tragic fashion with no one necessarily spared as the frenzy reaches its natural conclusion. This is a terrific spy thriller. This is great entertainment, and something I can heartily recommend as a great summer read. Enjoy!