Alex Rider Wiki
Advertisement

High in the Alps, death waits for Alex Rider

—Point Blanc tagline

Point Blanc is the second book in the Alex Rider series, written by Anthony Horowitz.

Plot

The book opens at the New York headquarters of Roscoe Electronics, a large company. Its leader, billionaire Michael J. Roscoe, steps into what he thinks is his private lift, to go to lunch with Senator Andrews. However, he falls to death in the shaft, the lift actually being a hologram, used by renowned anonymous contract assassin The Gentleman.

Meanwhile, Alex Rider is back at school, feeling a sense of loneliness following his time in Cornwall, and witnesses a man called Skoda selling drugs to some of his classmates. Alex follows him to his home, situated on a barge, but is caught by the police after using a crane to lift the barge out of the water. He accidentally drops it in a police conference centre rather than a nearby car park, as he intended, thanks to the builders at the site the crane is in shutting down its power. The police arrest the man.

Fortunately, no one is killed, but Alex’s real identity is revealed when he is arrested. After Crawley releases Alex from police custody the following day, he is taken to the Royal & General, where MI6 blackmail Alex into investigating the deaths of Roscoe and General Viktor Ivanov (an ex-KGB officer and head of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service, who died when his private motorboat exploded on the Black Sea) in exchange for all potential charges being dropped. The only thing linking these deaths are their rebellious sons’ attendance at the expensive Point Blanc Academy in the French Alps.

Alex undergoes a dramatic physical change and takes the identity of Alex Friend, supposedly the rebellious son of supermarket billionaire Sir David Friend. He stays with Sir David and his wife, Lady Caroline, for a week in preparation for his infiltration of the academy. Unfortunately, Sir David's daughter and only child, Fiona, gives Alex a hard time, even going so far as trying to kill him at a shooting party attended by her boyfriend Rufus and his friends, who lure him into the forest and try shooting at him. Alex hides in a pond, using his own gun as a snorkle, and waits until Rufus is left alone. He terrifies him into telling him how to get back home, before throwing Rufus' (illegal) shotgun into the pond. Afterwards, Fiona tries to excuse Rufus' actions, which enrages Alex, but their relationship improves after she takes him horse-riding and he saves her from a train when she falls onto a railway line.

Before leaving for the Academy, Alex meets Smithers out in a field, and receives a new set of gadgets to help him. They include a bulletproof ski suit and infrared ski goggles, an exploding earring, a Sony Discman that converts into a buzzsaw when used with a diamond-edged Beethoven CD and also contains a distress beacon (triggered by pressing fast forward three times) and a hardback copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets that shoots a tranquiliser dart out of the spine. Alex is forced to use the tranquiliser dart on Fiona when she threatens to reveal his secret.

He is picked up by the Academy's deputy director Eva Stellenbosch, who takes him, via helicopter, to the Du Monde hotel in Paris, which the Academy owns. That night, the Coke he drinks at dinner is drugged, and when he falls unconscious in his room, he is transported via a massive lift built into the room's floor to the basement, where disgraced plastic surgeon Dr. Walter Baxter has Alex stripped completely naked, and has every inch of his body meticulously photographed, measured and examined for unknown reasons at this point in the plot. Afterwards, his clothes are put back on him and he is returned to his room as though nothing has happened.

Alex arrives at the Academy the following day and meets Dr Grief, the director. He later strikes a friendship with James Sprintz, another pupil at the Academy who was asked to show Alex around. James explains that something weird goes on in the academy; the other rebellious, disrespectful students (Hugo Vries, Tom McMorin, Nicholas Marc, Cassian James and Joe Canterbury) each underwent a sudden overnight change and become the seemingly "perfect" pupils they seem to be now. James wants to escape, confiding in Alex about his plot to ski down the mountainside and go to either his father in Dusseldorf, his mother in England or friends in Paris and Berlin. Alex investigates over a number of days. One night after sneaking out using his buzzsaw and his bedroom window (after discovering that the bedroom doors are locked automatically at night), Alex sneaks into the Academy's downstairs and sees James being dragged from his room by several men and Stellenbosch. Perplexed, Alex goes to James' room (when the doors are unlocked) and sees somebody in there, who he thinks is James. But the next morning, 'James' acts strangely, and has given up his escape plan and has become exactly like the others.

While the other students attend Latin class, Alex climbs up the chimney to the second floor, and discovers that the second and third floors are largely carbon copies of the ground and first floors, with TV screens allowing the occupants of the upper floors to see what happens in that room on the lower floors. Alex also discovers a surgical operating theatre and laboratory, before also seeing Dr Grief talking to Dr Baxter about a final payment. Grief shoots and kills Baxter when he asks for more money before retiring to Spain, and phones the guards to dispose of Baxter's body. Alex also discovers that there is an elevator in the Academy, its ground floor entrance being disguised by a suit of armour in the library. He returns to his room and signals MI6 for assistance.

Back in London, Alan Blunt and Tulip Jones argue about sending immediate help before coming to a compromise: they will put an SAS unit on standby, who will take action after 24 hours. The following day, Alex uses the hidden lift to access the academy’s basement, which has been done into a prison, where he finds James, Tom, Paul Roscoe and the other students, who explain that Doctor Grief has made clones of them. Alex, in turn, reveals his true identity, and tells Paul that his father has died, and goes to leave; however, as the cell is bugged, Mrs Stellenbosch knocks him unconscious and Grief has Alex tied up, to hear his plan for world domination.

Grief explains to Alex his plan: both he and Stellenbosch are fanatical supporters of apartheid South Africa and former officers of their infamous secret service, the Bureau of State Security, with Grief also being Minister for Science under Prime Minister Jon Voster. Disgusted with Nelson Mandela becoming South Africa's first black President, and the rest of the world condemning apartheid, Grief decided that he would be better suited to rule the entire world, and in the 1990s, he made sixteen clones of himself. He set up the Academy for problem rich children, the perfect target, as the rich parents have no time for their children, who in turn, have no love for their parents. Moreover, as Alex had gathered previously, the parents are all leaders in their fields, which coverrs every field of human activity: Hugo Vries' father, Rudi, owns a fifty percent stake in the world's diamond mining; Joe Canterbury's parents are a New York Senator and senior officer at the Pentagon; Tom McMorin's mother owns newspapers; James' father, Dieter, is a financier; and Paul's father, Michael, left Roscoe Electronics to him. The late Dr Baxter was used to alter the appearances of Grief's clones to resemble the real sons, as a means to eventually have his clones inherit the assets of these individuals and eventually take over the world, and allowing Grief to theoretically live forever. He adds that Michael J. Roscoe and General Viktor Ivanov were both killed for suspecting that their "sons" were acting abnormally.

Grief then threatens Alex by saying he will be killed the next morning through a live dissection, and imprisons him on his own in the basement. Alex, using the exploding earring, escapes and snowboards down the mountain, using an improvised ironing board, before Grief discovers that Alex has escaped and sends two guards on snowmobiles after him, and having two guards with a machine gun and van at the mountain's foot, as a failsafe for any escapees. While escaping his pursuers, Alex is hospitalized when the force of a nearby train throws him into a fence.

Stellenbosch goes to the Grenoble hospital where Alex was taken, planning on finishing him off, but she is told that he is dead. She then watches as a French Army honour guard carries a coffin onto a C-130 Hercules, which seemingly flies to London for Alex's military funeral. This is false, however; Alex is still alive, and Mrs Jones convinces him to return to the Academy with an SAS squad, led by Wolf, in order to rescue the students. Alex is needed because he has knowledge of the Academy.

At first, the rescue mission goes well, with the SAS attacking the guards easily. However, in the cells, the alarm is raised and a firefight breaks out between the SAS and Grief's men. Alex is attacked by Stellenbosch, who is upset to see that he is still alive, and is impervious to Alex's attacks, due to her being an ex-champion weightlifter (having, on Alex's first day at the Academy, bent a two inch-thick fire poker out of shape without breaking sweat). She begins to strangle Alex, but she is shot dead by Wolf and falls out of a window. However, Wolf is also shot in the process but survives, and Alex rushes out, only to see Grief about to leave in a helicopter. In a desperate bid to stop him, Alex uses a snowmobile to drive forward and smash into the helicopter, leaping off just before it hit. Grief is killed when the snowmobile collides with the helicopter, causing it to explode.

Alex returns home, where Mrs Jones tells Alex in a debriefing that the rescue mission was a success and that "all fifteen clones" have apprehended in the countries that their real counterparts are from. Alex then receives a call informing him to visit the head teacher of his school, Mr Henry Bray. However, when he arrives, he finds a clone of himself sitting in Bray's chair; he recalls Mrs Jones’ words (as well as Jack Starbright's, and those of Mr Bernie Lee, the school caretaker) and realises that the sixteenth and final clone – his own – had escaped. Alex then fights his clone in the school; the battle eventually causes a fire thanks to an incident in the science wing, and one of the two falls from the roof of the school. It is left ambiguous which Alex survives.

Awards

  • Galaxy British Book Awards: The Children's Book of the Year
  • Lancashire Children's Book of the Year
  • Blue Peter Book Awards: The Book I Couldn't Put Down
  • Askews Torchlight Children's Book Award

Trivia

  • The book Alex Rider: The Mission Files claims that Anthony Horowitz was inspired by the first successful clone, Dolly the sheep. Horowitz read about it in a newspaper one day, and this inspired the book Point Blanc.
  • Skoda's real name is rumoured to be Jake, but Secret Weapon retcons this, saying that his birth name is Brian Smith.
  • It was mentioned in a supplement that a third person was killed by the Gentleman before Alex's mission in Point Blanc; the man killed was named Robert Merrick, an Australian newspaper magnate who died after choking on a chicken bone in a Brisbane restaurant, which is bizzare because Merrick had been vegetarian for six years previously.
  • At Putney Riverside Conference Centre, it is erroneously stated that the Chief Constable of the Metropolitan Police is giving a presentation on "Winning the War Against Drugs". In reality, the Met has no such rank, its most senior officer being the Commissioner.

Useful Links

Point Blanc Characters
Main Characters
Alex RiderAlan BluntTulip JonesJack StarbrightHugo GriefEva Stellenbosch
Other Key Characters
David FriendSmithersJames SprintzMichael J. RoscoeWolfJohn CrawleyFiona FriendJulius Grief
Advertisement