Inspector Henry Tibbett and his wife Emmy are looking forward to a relaxing ski holiday in the Alpine town of Santa Chiara, Italy. However, Henry has also been asked to keep his eyes peeled for information relating to an international smuggling ring that might be headquartered in the area. Though reluctant to spoil his holiday with work, Henry can’t help but notice that several of his fellow vacationers have secrets to hide. Then one of the other guests at his hotel, Fritz Hauser, is found murdered on the ski lift. As Henry helps the local police to investigate, he soon learns that Hauser was involved in the smuggling ring — and that several of the hotel guests had good reasons for wanting him dead.
I think this book could best be described as a “traveling” English country house mystery. All the key elements are there — unlikable murder victim, plenty of suspects, an unusual crime scene which demands very precise alibis from everyone — but it happens to take place in a ski villa rather than an English country house. Since I love the genre, I found a lot to enjoy in this book. I especially enjoyed the subtle deviations from the standard mystery formula: for example, two of the characters are a hearty English colonel and his domineering wife, yet there’s more to both of them that meets the eye. Also, the “foreigners” in classic mystery novels always seem to be there as mere background, but here they were truly fleshed-out characters with actual relevance to the plot. I believe this is the first book in a series featuring Tibbett, and I’d gladly read more. Definitely recommended for classic mystery fans!