A mystery story, written when the power of words meant a lot, reminding one of the prose found in W.E.Johns or H.C.McNeile. This one was first published in the era of the early 1930s and is now on the market as one of the Casemate Classic War Fiction books.
The scene is set close to the southern border between France and Germany where two friends, Dick Baron and Charles Pagan, are setting out on a walking holiday in the area of the Vosges mountains during the autumn of 1930. That they are old friends is apparent from the banter and their references to the time they spent serving in the same regiment during the Great War.
One evening it is getting dark by the time they find an inn where they encounter a somewhat indifferent attitude. Although the service, food and beds are fine they are not really made welcome and, later, they realise they have actually been locked in their rooms. Nothing daunted the curious pair manage to leave through the window only to find themselves confronted with an unpleasant drop into the valley and are obliged to negotiate a rather narrow ledge or path around the building. In the end, nothing seems to be wrong though Pagan is convinced he saw something.
The following day they discover the relics of a battlefield set around a ridge with peaks some several thousand feet high and are advised by a local passerby not to visit the place at night for fear of what, or who, they might meet there. Their walk takes them through some of the battlefield and on until they reach an inn where they are again advised not to go through that area at night at which point Pagan feels that his feelings are justified and is suspicious of just what sort of under cover meetings might be taking place.
Their next stop is in Kaisersburg where they meet up with old friend of Baron, Cecil Lindsey and his sister Clare, together with their driver Griffin who is also an ex serviceman. Pagan is romantically intrigued with Clare but, unfortunately, Clare is one of the maidens whose fiancé was killed in the Great War.
The story has both romance and mystery for the main characters and unfolds in a conventional way with just the right amount of anticipation, but to write more of the plot would give away too much. Within the book the descriptions of circumstances, places and people are impressive and illustrate some of the problems, both mental and physical, which still existed more than a decade after the Great War. The places, towns and battlefields described actually exist though in some cases the spelling does not always seem to be correct (older spellings changed perhaps) and, of course, some of the railway lines involved are no longer there.
The nice things about this book are the language used, totally descriptive without any swear words or profanities, yet portraying what was meant by the author and the plot which unravelled without actually giving anything away until the end. For what it is it certainly deserves a high rating.