Chapter 1: A Crook Takes RevengeEdit
Biggles' American counterpart, Eddie Ross comes to London with a request for help. Cesare Paola, an American gangster has kidnapped Carlo Salvatore, the son of a rich oil tycoon Rosario Salvatore. But the kidnapper isn't interested in ransom--it is an Italian-style blood feud. Cesare blames Rosario for not helping him and his brother when they had been, arrested, tried and convicted for various organised crimes. The boy Carlo had always led a restricted life for his own protection. Not allowed to have friends or go out, he was limited to indulging in his two hobbies: angling and reading about aviation. While fishing on a heavily guarded private lake, a flying boat had landed. Carlo apparently got on board willingly and even waved to the guards below. So Carlo may not even think he has been kidnapped and may not alert the authorities even when he can do so. Ross believes Cesare has taken on the assumed name Cornelli and he and the boy, posing as his son, had come to Britain via Canada.
Chapter 2: Leave it to GaskinEdit
Biggles asks Gaskin to help look for Cornelli through routine police channels while they discuss the complexities of the case: right now the boy thinks it's a holiday but what if he becomes restless and Cornelli loses his patience with him and turns violent?
Chapter 3: Now to the NorthEdit
Gaskin comes through. There is a pair of Cornellis staying at the Richmond Arms in Tomintoul, and what else should they be doing but fishing! It seems obvious in retrospect. Biggles, Ross, Ginger and Bertie fly to Inverness in the Procter. Biggles would rather not drive through unfamiliar highland roads in darkness so they spend the night in Inverness.
Chapter 4: A Near Miss--TwiceEdit
Biggles and co. make their way to Tomintoul but the innkeeper at the Richmond Arms tells them Cornelli and the boy had checked out. They had just missed him--it was the Austin shooting brake they saw leaving as they arrived. Biggles also learns that he is the second person to ask about Cornelli. Someone else had called a day or two ago. Biggles and co. set off to overtake the Austin. As they depart, they see a car pull in with an Italian looking person in a gaudy colourful tie, probably an American.
After a fruitless search, the detectives head back to Inverness to return their hired car. There, in the garage, is the Austin! But Cornelli and the boy had just returned the car and had walked into town with their bags.
Chapter 5: Cornelli Wins a TrickEdit
Bertie goes to the airport to make enquiries while the rest try the railway station. The man with the flashy tie also shows up at the station and starts to ask Biggles why he is asking for a man named "Cornelli". Biggles denies knowing anything about such a person. Bertie now comes back to say that Cornelli had bought two air tickets for London. They dash off but just miss the plane.
Back at Inverness, Biggles calls Gaskin to watch the airport but gets some surprising news a few hours later: Cornelli and the boy were not on the plane! They decide to return to the airport to see if anything is known the two not taking up thier seats. Ross now remembers: the man with the flashy tie is an American gangster nicknamed "The Viper".
Chapter 6: The Viper Asks Some QuestionsEdit
At the airport, who should they meet but the Viper! He presses his questions but at the same time reveals that he is looking for Cornelli because he owes him a lot of money. Biggles fends him off and they go their separate ways.
At the car-rental garage at Inverness, Biggles and co. get yet another surprise. Cornelli and the boy had just been there not long ago! This time they had bought a car, a light blue Morris and were headed in the direction of Loch Ness. Groaning at all the near misses, our friends rent a car and set off in pursuit.
Chapter 7: "So Near and Yet--"Edit
On the mountain roads, our friends spot a black saloon car following them at a distance--it must be the Viper! And now, to complicate matters, they actually find the blue Morris parked by the side of the road and see, in the distance, Cornelli and the boy fishing on the Loch in a boat. They wait for them by the boathouse pier. The boat approaches the shore and then sheers off in a hurry--the Viper and his partner have also turned up! The Viper draws a gun to shoot at the boat but Ginger throws knocks him down with a stone. There is a scuffle where the policemen manage to disarm the Viper and throw the weapon into the Loch. In the midst of this, they hear the Morris starting up and driving off. Ignoring the Viper, they get back to their car and resume their chase.
Chapter 8: The High Road and the LowEdit
With a piece of reckless driving, the Viper and Mack succeed in overtaking Biggles but soon runs out of petrol. Biggles and co. decide to leave the Viper stranded on the highlands road. But by nightfall it is clear they have lost Cornelli again and they return in low spirits to Inverness.
Chapter 9: Shocks, and More ShocksEdit
The next morning Biggles is shocked to see the blue Morris in Inverness! Cornelli had been back and had sold the Morris to the garage. Over at the airport, they learn that Cornelli had left for London on the morning flight. They fly back to London where Gaskin has yet another shock for them: Cornelli had come back to London, but Carlo was not with him!
Chapter 10: Fresh PlansEdit
Ross calls his HQ and gets another surprise: Rosario Salvatore is on his way to London! Biggles surmises that Cornelli might have come south to meet Rosario, perhaps to discuss a ransom. He decides the best thing is for him to return to Scotland. Carlo had probably been left at a quiet fishing hotel somewhere. They would call the establishments near Inverness for someone fitting his description.
Chapter 11: ComplicationsEdit
Two days of endless phone calls yield nothing but then the man at the garage in Inverness tells Biggles that he has seen a boy in a Rolls Royce riding into town on the way to buy some tackle. At a tackle shop, Biggles learns that the owner of the Rolls is one Major Grey and he liked fishing on the Spey. But who is he?
Ginger and Bertie arrive at Inverness with disturning news: the police had lost track of Cornelli. It seemed the Viper had got hold of his address at the Grosvenor Hotel in Victoria and had been headed there. Cornelli had escaped and had not been seen since.
Chapter 12: Another DisappointmentEdit
During the night, Gaskin calls to report that Cornelli had been spotted boarding the train for Inverness. What's more, the Viper and Mack were on the same train but they don't know Cornelli is on board. Feeling optimistic at last, our friends are ready and waiting as the train pulls in the next morning, but there's no Cornelli, nor Viper and Mack!
They must have stepped off at an intermediate stop. They decide to call at the stations along the Spey.
Chapter 13: A Warm Scent at LastEdit
At Newtonmore, the detectives meet a Mr Grant, the local water bailiff and he knows Major Grey. Grant had not heard or seen a boy fishing with Grey but tells them that the Major had leased Tromie lodge for the season and could be fishing along the Tromie just below the lynn (waterfall).
Chapter 14: Ginger on a SpotEdit
While the above conversation is going on, Ginger spots a figure who looks like Cornelli and wanders off to check. He is right, and Cornelli holds him up with a gun--he can "smell a copper" a long way off. Cornelli wants to know where Carlo is--he had lost him. The Viper appears on the scene and Ginger takes advantage of the confusion to escape.
Chapter 15: The River Takes a HandEdit
Going along the Tromie, th detectives finally find Carlo fishing on his own on the opposite bank. They call to him but he is preoccupied with trying to gaff a large salmon he has just caught. Cornelli also shows up but he is soon preoccupied with the Viper and Mack who also arrive on the scene. A gun battle ensues which leaves Cornelli and the Viper dead. Biggles and co. are content to let the gangsters settle it between themselves because, in the meantime, Carlo falls into the swollen river and Biggles has to jump in rescue him before he is swept away.
Carlo is dragged unconscious to the bank. Major Grey appears and Biggles enlists his help to driv Carlo to the hospital.
Chapter 16: The Pay-offEdit
Rosario Salvatore flies up to look in on his son in hospital. He is profuse in his thanks to Ross and Biggles but tells them that he has the misfortune to be a rich man. To which Biggles adds that his son has the misfortune to be a poor rich boy.