Journalist Cecily Wong has a bad track record when it comes to mountaineering. But when charismatic and internationally famous mountaineer Charles McVeigh invites her to join his record-breaking final climb of the year on Manaslu, she knows its a potentially career-making opportunity. The only catch? No interview until she summits.
Putting her past failures behind her, Cecily joins the team. But when a climber dies under mysterious circumstances, she becomes suspicious. By the time the second climber dies, it's too late to back out now. Stuck in a mountain death zone , she has to battle her own self doubt, the elements... and a killer who is determined to leave no witness to tell the tale.
Breathless is both a survival story and a murder mystery and it literally gave me the chills. Cecily is an every woman, suddenly thrust, relatively unprepared, into the privileged, pricey, and competitive world of mountaineering, a world were death is not unusual and the biggest obstacle is not necessarily the climb. As Cecily prepares to tackle Manaslu, she also begins to learn about the people on her team and the various reasons why they climb. It's an insider's look into a club that I, frankly, had never thought to even try to join.
McCulloch's descriptions of the climb, the cold, the dangers, and the heights were bone-chillingly realistic. When one of the characters nearly falls through a crevasse, I found myself shouting aloud a warn. Honestly, I didn't know that my fear of heights could be triggered by a book. Turns out, it can. While the mystery itself is solved fairly easily (someday I'm going to write a book of rules for the amateur sleuth!), the book is still intense because of the duel nature of the threat - the human and the mountain.
This book was gripping and terrifying. I highly, highly recommend it. Unless you're planning on tackling Everest. In which case, maybe wait until after the climb lest you psych yourself out.
Robert Neville is the last human on earth. Or might be. He doesn't really know. What he does know is that a devastating virus has swept through the world, turning the inhabitants into vampires. Now Robert is alone, held up in a bunker that once was his home, king of all he surveys by day, trapped and surrounded by rapacious vampires by night. Can one man survive in a world of vampires?
Legend flips the traditional vampire story on it's head by putting vampires in the majority, with an outclassed humanity on the run. Neville is a man who has lost everything: his work, his wife, his child, his whole world. By day, he can sally forth outside of his house, looking for food and supplies, but every night, he is besieged by vampires literally starving for his blood, perhaps the last truly human blood on the planet. It's dark, it's claustrophobic, and, in a post-Covid pandemic world, this story strikes a little too close to home (but in the best way).
Oddly, this story didn't hit me as hard as Matheson's other fiendishly frightening book, Hell House. Perhaps, having lived through multiple lockdowns, I've become accustomed to the terror of it. And although Matheson does occasionally fall prey to certain story-telling tropes of the time (it AMAZING how many horny, well-endowed, under-clothed women survive the various holocausts, plagues, invasions, and disasters in the sci-fi worlds of the 1950s and 1960s - and how often they need the love of a good(read: available) man in the midst of said crisis #eyeroll), it actually works with the story here. The story is succinct, bloody, and well-reasoned, as well as a fascinating look at a man, struggling with loneliness, loss, and a world without meaning. It is not for the faint of heart.
I Am Legend is well worth the read for lovers of horror and sci-fi. (However, I would caution against reading it while in quarantine. ;) )
In a sleepy English village in the 1950s, a housekeeper dies. But was her death an accident? Or murder? Atticus Pund, a holocaust survivor and famous private detective, has nothing to go on and his own problems to deal with: a terminal illness is threatening to take him before he can finish writing his book. But then housekeeper's employer, Sir Magnus Pie, is beheaded in his own mansion. Can Atticus solve one last murder before his own clock runs out?
Meanwhile, in present day London, editor Susan Ryland receives the first draft of Alan Conway's latest Atticus Pund novel, she has no idea that her life is about to be flipped up-side-down. Not only is Alan about to kill off the most popular character in her publishing house's library, but the last chapter is missing - and Alan Conway is dead. Now she has to find the last chapter... and possibly solve a real live murder on her own.
Anthony Horowitz's novels are always a delight, especially for fans of classic detective fiction, and Magpie Murders is no exception here. In fact, readers get two well-plotted, lovingly written murder mysteries for the price of one. Reading this made me sorry that Atticus Pund didn't actually have his own murder series (Horowitz, consider!), but Susan Ryland makes an excellent lead. She's feisty, relatable, and loveable, an amateur who has little but her own instincts and a vast knowledge of literary detectives. Horowitz also has fun poking at detective novel tropes and authorial snobbishness - all in his typical loving manner.
There is a mini-series (also excellent, also written by Horowitz) - it is sufficiently different from the novel so that one may enjoy both. The prose here is excellent, the shout-outs to golden-aged detectives is so much fun, and Ryland is an excellent lead. For fans of Agatha Christie, Allingham, Conan Doyle, and Foyle's War, it doesn't get much more fun than this.