"Niceness is an overrated quality. Being nice is how a man pays his way into the party if he hasn't the guts to be tough or the class to be brilliant."
Jonathan Hemlock teaches art at a university, but the modest sum he makes teaching doesn't cover his extravagant habits. He is renovating a Gothic church on Long Island, expensive real estate as we all know, and the upgrades involve only the very best in Italian marbles and rare woods. Jonathan is building a shrine to his self-image. He has a collection of twenty-one rare masterpiece Impressionists paintings. Monet, Cezanne, Utrillo, Van Gogh, Manet, Seurat, Degas, Renoir, and Cassatt are tucked away in a special room below his church. Like any collector he is never satisfied and when a Pissarro comes available he is willing to do what he has to do to buy it.
Some people might pick up a second job doing security work, or working in a restaurant or with Hemlock's background maybe he could write an extra paper for publication. The problem is nothing pays well enough to meet the asking price for the Pissarro except for something the military found out he was perfectly mentally and physically predisposed to do...assassination. When he is in need he gets in touch with the C2 organization. Hemlock, in particular, is used to revenge spies who have been killed in the line of duty. The head of this organization is an albino, going by the name of Dragon. He keeps his office in near complete darkness as any light is detrimental to his already shaky health. The negotiations are ruthless between Hemlock and Dragon, one trying to get as much money as he can from each job and the other trying to make sure he never pays him enough that he quits being an asset.
Hemlock drinks Laphroaig Scotch Whisky.
Hemlock seduces beautiful women, because not only are they making themselves available to him, but they are desirable to collect. My favorite name for a woman in film and literature is still Pussy Galore, (when I first saw Goldfinder
I can remember LOL, when she is introduced, nervously.)Honor Blackman playing Pussy Galore
but Trevanian takes a stab at suggestive names as well. Felicity Arce, yes pronounced the way you think, and Randie Nickers to name a couple. After his encounter with Miss Arce, he had helped her enjoyment by suggesting she press down with her feet, Jonathan reflects on the results of the evening. "In the hall, as he waited for the elevator, he felt pleased about the evening. It had been simple, uncomplicated, and temporarily satisfying: like urination. And that was the way he preferred his lovemaking to be."
That is until he meets Gem. Vonette McGee plays Gem in the movie
She is smart. She is witty. She is beautiful and sexy and she seems to understand him. For the first time in his life he is starting to experience something more than physical relief with a woman.
She betrays him.
Her actions ensnare him further under the control of Dragon. He has to take one final job that may very well kill him. Jonathan used to be an avid climber, but it has been years since he has done any serious climbing. When C2 manages to get him on the team climbing the Eiger, so that he can determine which of his fellow climbers is the target, he has to reunite with his old friend Big Ben to get himself back into climbing shape. As an added point of stress Hemlock had tried to scale the Eiger twice before, much younger, and had failed.
While training Hemlock runs into his old friend Miles Mellough, the man who betrayed his best friend Henri. "Tall, brilliant in his physical trim, he pulled off his epic homosexuality with such style that plebeian men did not recognize it, and worldly men did not mind it. As always, girls were attracted to him in gaggles, and he treated them with the amusing condescension of a glamorous Parisian aunt visiting relatives in Nebraska.
Needless to say Miles knows that Jonathan is not going to let bygones be bygones and thus begins a struggle to see who can gain the upper hand long enough to live.Eiger Mountain
The scenes in Switzerland are supposed to be amazing in the movie. I haven't seen the movie, but intend to watch it this week. I can tell you the last 50 pages with the characters on the mountain, hit by a Foehn that melts and refreezes the mountain slope, had me on the edge of my seat. Mental games are put aside and it takes all of them working together to have a chance to survive.
This book was a guilty pleasure, an early working of what by many is considered his best book [b:Shibumi|1059|Shibumi|Trevanian|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348781238s/1059.jpg|1326919] with a similar character living outside the normal perimeters of society with a shady sense of morality. Trevanian definitely evolves his dialogue, adding more humor, in his later books. I liked the book, but it is most assuredly a "male" adventure story. To enjoy the book you must read it with the idea that it is a relic of the 1970s and to my mind written with a certain degree of tongue and cheek.