Death On Milestone Buttress (1951) by Glyn Carr

Milestone Buttress is a 400ft Difficult climb with two starts, the Overhand start and the “Crack Start”. This gives the first problem if two parties start the climb at the same time, hence a blockage at the first stance…

Thus speaks the post on Milestone Buttress on, a climb in Snowdonia in North Wales. It completely fails to mention what might happen if you are climbing tethered to another climber and, when they go out of sight, they cry out and the rope goes worryingly slack. And while there’s probably plenty on the website about mountaineering accidents, there’s worrying little about what to do if the word the fellow climber cries out, before being found dead is “Don’t!”

Luckily for Hilary Bourne, Abercrombie “Filthy” Lewker has attached himself to her group and when he discovers hard evidence of murder, he takes it upon himself to play the part of the Great Detective. But when the only possible killer is the last person they want to find guilty… is it possible that someone else was on the mountain that day?

Have I mentioned my toothache on the blog yet? No? Well, apparently I’ve cracked a molar and the dentist is taking their time finding a solution. Highlight today was going back for my third appointment for the dentist (a new one to me) smiling and asking “are you here for a check-up?” and then proceeding to treat the tooth in a way entirely differently from how the previous dentist had suggested and making the tooth hurt more than it did before.

Anyway, not after sympathy – well, maybe a bit – but it’s another reason why the blog is slow. Concentration is a difficult thing when it feels like someone’s bashed a nail through one of your teeth and just when you think it’s calmed down decides to twist it a bit. I know this is nothing compared to those of you who live with constant chronic pain, but, if I’ve learned anything, it’s to respect such people even more.

So back to the book – and this is the first time Glyn Carr aka Showell Styles promoted Abercrombie Lewker to the lead character. He is the supporting character in four thrillers that I wrote a little about in my review of Death Of A Weirdy, but the Glyn Carr stories are all proper mysteries. And, as I’ve said before, mysteries that need to see the light of day again.

I’d been putting this one off a bit as I’d been told that Lewker’s Shakespeareanisms were somewhat over the top in his first outing. Not sure why that should have bothered me, as I do like my sleuths on the loquacious side (step forward Mr Bathurst) and it definitely didn’t bother me here. There’s plenty here to like, from Carr’s love of mountains and mountaineering coming across so effectively on the page, to a typical rogue’s gallery of suspects to a typical Golden Age would-be romance.

I don’t think this is as strong as the others in the series that I’ve been fortunate enough to read – the murderer is pretty guessable and the clue that breaks things open is very hard to spot, I think. But all in all, it’s a good introduction to the world of Abercrombie Lewker and, as it was reprinted by Rue Morgue Press, there are some affordable copies out there…

One comment

  1. As you know from discussions in another place, I loved this one. Quoting the Bard was a bit of a GA trope (yes, we know, Carr, G. is post-GA only nobody told him that) and at least Lewker’s quotations tend to be apt, rather than shoehorned in. I like the way he switches from the comedies to Macbeth once murder has been done. I’ve only read one other – the next one, Murder on the Matterhorn and I actually preferred this one. I have Death Under Snowdon on my shelf. Carr is a disciple of the Street school of titling, isn’t he? You’d’ve thought he’d’ve gone for quotations but no, it’s Death/Murder/etc. + Location or, occasionally + Victim. Anyway, it’s such a shame there are so few of these available affordably, I’d love to read them all as Lewker’s becoming a firm favourite.


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