Three mountaineers climb up a steep sandstone rock called Needle. Tonda Patera climbs first, followed by Bartoš and finally the only girl in the group, Jiřina. The fourth member of the group, František Malát, remains in the camping-site. Climbing up, the mountaineers cannot see each other, and thus have to rely on calling out individual instructions. In one moment, Bartoš gets scared - the rope with which Tonda is to protect him has loosened and even slips down. Bartoš gets to the top only with difficulties, finding Patera dead with a knife in his back. František calls the police. The investigator of the murder is Lieutenant Borůvka, not too dexterous a man at first sight, but possessed of a bright analytical mind. He asks another group of mountain climbers for help. They present him various possibilities of how the murder could have been committed. It seems that the culprit could only be Bartoš, who was at the same time Patera's rival in love for Jiřina. But Jiřina, too, had a possibility at one moment to untie herself, go round the rock and commit the crime. The least suspected is František, who was afraid to climb rocks and was thus considered weakling by the others. It is nevertheless him whom Borůvka eventually convicts his of the murder. For František was secretly in love with Jiřina. Because of her he overcame his vertigo, swung to the top of the Needle from the neighbouring rock and killed Patera, hoping that Bartoš would be arrested as the murderer.
horolezkyně Jiřina Fikotová
horolezec František Malát
kriminalista Pavel Málek
horolezec Tonda Patera
Josef Škvorecký (Smrt na Jehle – povídka)