Mountain climbing, crime drama, and historical fiction certainly might not appear to be a natural mash-up, but Harry Farthing pulls it off – and quite well at that – with The Summit.
Farthing goes to great lengths in setting up and describing the climbs to and from Mt Everest in Krakauer-ian detail, with a similar height of excitement. The treachery, the splendor, the whole man-versus-nature element, all well done. To compliment, Farthing adds in a historical mystery involving a Nazi attempt at beating the British to summit Everest first. The ramifications of that plot propel the lead story of a British climber, Neil Quinn, who is accidentally roped into a mission to discover if this indeed happened all the while protecting himself and this mission from the obligatory ne’er-do-wells and adding to the already high-level of danger as man must also go against man.
With the plot and pacing, Farthing creates an excellent set of characters. Even secondary and tertiary players whose sole purpose is to propel the plot along are fleshed out and real. Perhaps the only detraction in this regard is the occasional placing of dialogue where said characters’ speech can come across as expository rather than meaningfully implied.
Truly, The Summit is a fantastic read. Thanks to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for the advanced copy and a most satisfying novel.