A Corpse At Camp Two (1955) by Glyn Carr

Sir Abercrombie Lewker is chairing the annual dinner of the Foothold Club, celebrating the upcoming attempt to ascend Mount Chomolu in the Himalayas and to conduct some filming near the summit. Lewker is feeling his age and pangs of jealousy for a climb that he has never attempted – so when the opportunity presents itself to sub in for the film producer who was going on the trip, he leaps at it.

He soon comes to regret it though. The group of climbers is a fractious one, and the tensions start to boil over as the ascent begins. When the group finally reaches Camp Two, on a windswept glacier, things finally come to a head and someone is found suffocated in their sleeping bag. As Lewker struggles with investigating a crime on the top of the world, there is another danger lurking… something abominable that leaves extremely large footprints in the snow.

So after taking a look at Lewker’s first appearance, I figured I’d take a look at another of his actual mystery novels. This is the sixth Glyn Carr novel – as a reminder, books one to three, five and eleven were reprinted by Rue Morgue Press about twenty years ago and the others seem never to have been reprinted at all. Obviously it would have made sense to look at book four, The Corpse In The Crevasse, but I forgot which was which when I was reserving it at the Bodleian – as I’ve said before, these are not books that I can afford to buy.

I’m curious as to why Rue Morgue picked the books they did. Were they the ones they considered the best? Not convinced about that because I really enjoyed Death Of A Weirdy. Was it because they were the five that the company could find copies of? That’s probably more likely. Having said that, this isn’t the strongest mystery of the series that I’ve read so far.

The blurb tries to set this off as a two-pronged mystery – first as to who the victim is going to be and then who the killer is. I think that’s the marketing department at play, because there’s no real mystery to the first question. Basically there’s someone who spends the entire time giving excuses for people to kill them and then they get killed after quite a lot of pages – at least 70% of the way through.

Usually a long wait for the murder is a bad sign for me, but occasionally an author pulls it off. Death In The Hopfields from John Rhode worked a treat due to the picture the author painted of the world of hop-picking in Kent and here, as the party travels by boat and then on foot through India to the Himalayas all the way up a fictional mountain, it’s an engrossing read. Showell Styles aka Glyn Carr was a devoted mountaineer and he pours his love for that activity onto the page. At no point when reading this was I checking the page count as to when the murder would happen – and I could have done given that one chapter was titled “MURDER”.

Once the investigation begins, there’s a nice idea as to why the killer suffocated the victim in his sleeping bag – a slow process – rather than just chucking him off the side of the mountain, but there’s a certain something lacking in the denouement. I’m guessing from a comment from my blogging buddy TomCat that this is supposed to be a locked room (well, tent) mystery, but that’s only the case if you consider a room only being inaccessible at a certain time or for certain people to be a locked room. I don’t, personally, that’s more of an alibi thing – certainly the idea that this is a sort of impossible murder only really comes up when Lewker is explaining who did it.

All in all, this is a lesser book than some of the other when it comes to the complexity of the mystery, but Carr is an expert at producing a highly readable and enjoyable narrative even when there’s no murder in sight. His descriptions of the majesty and terror of the Himalayas is just beautiful to read. Oh, and almost certainly not a spoiler, but the murderer isn’t really a yeti…


  1. Believe it or not, I had absolutely no idea about the quasi-locked tent element. I suspect Lewker in Tirol of being an impossible crime (see cover), but A Corpse in Camp Two appealed to me because of the Himalayan setting and the Yeti footprints on the cover. You know I’m not adverse to a dash of the bizarre and out-of-the-way settings in my detective stories.

    “Was it because they were the five that the company could find copies of?”

    I dimly remember a comment on the old Yahoo group to that extend and later Rue Morgue reprints mentioned in the shortened, revised introduction that there was a fifteenth, unpublished manuscript. Apparently lost forever. So they must have been poking around for copies.


    • Odd, because it was Styles who chose to stop writing the mysteries as he had run out of ways of killing someone up a mountain. He was still around when the Rue Morgue books came out so if that manuscript existed, he could have given it to them.

      And it would have been the sixteenth…


      • You’re correct. It would have been the sixteenth Lewker novel, but checked the RMP reprint of Death Finds a Foothold, to be sure, and mentions that sixteenth, unpublished manuscript as “currently lost.” Carr probably only told them about its existence.


  2. There seem to be copies of more than those five on sale regularly and while some are at truly insane prices, a number can be had at the kind that wouldn’t be an outrageous investment if you were republishing (and you could resell after you’d scanned them). Then again, while eBay and others existed back then, they weren’t as huge as they are today. Of the five, Buttress and Snowdon were published in paperback (I have a White Circle and a Fontana respectively) so presumably were in wider circulation at the time. My Matterhorn is a US copy, I’m not sure how many of the others were published there. I’ve also seen foreign language (esp. Italian but also German) translations of quite a few of them. I wish I had the funds to buy more of these as I absolutely love the four I have read so far.


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