24 August 2022

Breathless by Amy McCulloch


By Amy McCulloch

My Review

Journalist Cecily Wong is in Nepal attempting to summit the world's eighth highest mountain, Manaslu, in exchange for an interview with acclaimed mountaineer Charles McVeigh. Her previous climbing attempts have met with poor results and she's become well known for her blog charting her biggest failures.  

McVeigh, the world's greatest living alpinist, made his name summiting the fourteen highest mountains in the world in under a year without the use of ropes or oxygen. He's also been hailed a hero for rescuing climbers who would otherwise have perished in sub-zero conditions. No one else has come close to matching his achievements.

As the weather on Manaslu worsens, Cecily begins to suspect someone is stalking her. A series of 'accidents' leads her to believe there's a killer amongst her team. Will she reach the summit or will the mountain claim another victim?

As anyone who regularly reads my reviews will know, wintery backdrops are my favourite settings for murder and mayhem. I love the feeling of isolation and panic as the weather closes in. Suddenly the protagonist realises there's no escape. 

This book had everything going for it yet somehow didn't excite or thrill as much as I wanted it to. Don't get me wrong — it was an enjoyable read — but once certain information is divulged, I was able to figure out the rudimentary plot elements for myself.

Descriptions of freezing conditions and danger posed by avalanches, ice seracs and deep crevasses were excellent. I had no difficulty visualising the perilous trek towards the ultimate goal — Manaslu's summit. However, a couple of the characters felt too stereotyped; with one in particular showing little regard for their own personal safety in such a harsh environment.

On the whole it was atmospheric and tense. A little slow at the beginning but once the action on Manaslu got going, it was an enjoyable read.    

Book Source: Purchased copy (ebook)
My Rating ⭐⭐⭐

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Penguin (Paperback, 27th Oct 2022)
ISBN-13: 978-1405950343

The Blurb

Near the top of one of the world's tallest mountains, journalist Cecily Wong feels out of her depth.

This trip was supposed to be the highlight of her career. Now, she knows that to reach the summit, she must trust her fellow climbers.

But when strange accidents start to happen, the blistering conditions are the least of her worries.

Because little does she know:

This gruelling climb is about to become deadly . . .

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