The Eiger Sanction

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The Eiger Sanction
First edition cover
CountryUnited States
PublisherOutlet (Crown)
Publication date
October 1972
Media typePrint
Pages316 (First edition)
LC ClassPZ4.T8135 Ei PS3570.R44
Followed byThe Loo Sanction 

The Eiger Sanction is a 1972 thriller novel by Trevanian, the pen name of Rodney William Whitaker.[1] The story is about a classical art professor and collector who doubles as a professional assassin, and who is coerced out of retirement to avenge the murder of an old friend. The novel was made into a film directed by and starring Clint Eastwood in 1975.[1] Whitaker wrote a sequel entitled The Loo Sanction.[1]


Dr. Jonathan Hemlock is an art professor and mountaineer. He is also a collector of paintings, most of them obtained from the black market. To finance his collection he works as a so-called "counter-assassin" for a secret US government agency, the CII.

In order to acquire a Pissarro, Hemlock agrees to carry out a couple of "sanctions" (contract assassinations targeted specifically against killers of American agents). The first one is easily dealt with in Montreal. For the second, he will need to join a group of climbers who are about to attempt the north face of the Eiger, a particularly difficult challenge. Hemlock goes back into training and eventually climbs the mountain with the team that he believes includes his would-be victim — whose identity he will have to deduce on the mountain itself. Poor climbing conditions disrupt the climb and lead Hemlock to the discovery that his target is someone other than he had expected.

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