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When CIA agent Dan Slater is informed by his old friend and former CIA agent Frank Wheatly of his son's death in a skiing accident, he leaves immediately for the Austrian Alps to determine the cause of the accident. Convinced that his son's death was not accidental, Slater begins making inquiries and learns that a woman and two men were skiing in the same vicinity on the day of the accident. While conducting his investigation, Slater is followed by two East German agents, Colonel Berthold and Gregori, who have orders to capture Slater and replace him with a Soviet double. The discovery of his son's bloody skiing parka reinforces Slater's suspicions, and he continues his quest despite Washington's insistence that he return to his post. Slater finds Gina Ericson, the woman who was skiing the day his son died, and she tells him that Max Gruner was one of the men skiing that day. Taking Wheatly along, Slater drives out to Gruner's farmhouse but is greeted there by an armed Gregori. Hearing gunshot, Wheatly panics and drives off; but once his fear has subsided, he returns for Slater, unaware that the East Germans have replaced his friend with Kalmar, an enemy agent who, through plastic surgery, is an exact double for Slater. When Kalmar, posing as Slater, accuses Wheatly of framing him, Wheatly instead suggests that it was Gina who set up the confrontation with enemy agents. After brutally beating Gina, Kalmar returns to the farmhouse for Slater. Driven off for his execution, Slater bolts from the car and begins to climb the ski mountain to confront and kill his double. Wheatly intervenes, and each of the two men attempts to convince him that he is the real Slater. When the false Slater betrays himself by evincing parental concern for his dead son, Wheatly shoots him. The real Slater, Wheatly observes, has never been capable of genuine emotion.