Not McKenzie’s Strongest Work, Still A Solid Read. I suppose this is how you know when an author is truly good overall – when they can have a book that is rather far from their best, and still create a mostly compelling tale from it. Here, it almost seems like McKenzie is phoning it in. Clearly, *something* happened here, but that is for her to know and we readers to simply move on from. 🙂
The book itself is both interesting and yet slow. There is enough of the mechanics built in to move the plot along and to ratchet up the mystery and tension before a wild curve late in the book that very nearly gives a sense of whiplash, and there is even room here for a sequel, should McKenzie choose to go that route. There is a lot of telling what happens rather than showing what happens, and yet McKenzie overall makes this work within the space of this tale and how she is telling it.
If you’re a fan of Yosemite National Park and/ or want to vicariously live a summer there, this may be of interest. If you’re interested in learning something about the volunteer search and rescue teams that spend summers in some of these parks, this may be of interest. And if you’re a long time fan of McKenzie, this will absolutely be of interest. But for anyone else, I actually recommend reading almost any of McKenzie’s *prior* works first, to see how good she is and build some trust first. *Then* come into this book with that trust, and hopefully it works out for you. I know it did for me, as I’m still looking forward to the next one. Recommended.
This review of Have You Seen Her by Catherine McKenzie was originally written on June 19, 2023.
Atmospheric Tale Of Survival When There Is Little Atmosphere To Be Had. “What better place for a killer to hide than in the death zone” indeed. This is a book both for fans of survival thrillers and for nonfiction high altitude survival tales ala Krakaur’s Into Thin Air. McCulloch, inspired by her own real-world ascent of the very mountain she bases this tale on, crafts a story that shows the breadth of who goes up these mountains and why, and what they encounter when they get there. The physical dangers are ever present, the psychological challenges are daunting, and when it begins to leak that the resident legend may not be so legendary after all – and that there may be a killer on the mountain to boot – the tension ratchets up as high and tight as it can get. Excellent tale excellently told, and very much recommended.
This review of Breathless by Amy McColloch was originally written on May 1, 2022.
Sick, Demented, Twisted… But A Slow Build To Get There. This is one of those stories where the description sounds intriguing and the prologue certainly does its job of dragging us into the book (Do *not* skip it, as it is essential)… but then we get more of a slow burn mystery build through the front half of the book. Not far into the second half, things pick up with a particular revelation, and then the snowball begins rapidly rolling downhill. The final chapters become utterly riveting, with revelation after revelation and so many twists you’re not going to want to go too fast down this mountain road. And then everything gets wrapped up tidily as one would generally expect in the genre. Indeed, if there is any qualm to be had here it is that this particular story could likely have done well with a much more open and speculative ending – but I know I’m in the minority of readers in appreciating those (when appropriate). Very much recommended.
This review of Unmissing by Minka Kent was originally written on February 16, 2022.
This week we’re looking at an intriguing way of looking at the history of the Appalachian Trail. This week we’re looking at The Appalachian Trail by Philip D’Anieri
Unfortunately my string of being plagued by writer’s block continues, but here is the Goodreads review:
Biography – By Way Of Biographies. This was a very interesting read, if primarily for the narrative structure D’Anieri chose in writing it. Here, the author doesn’t set out to provide a “definitive history” of the Trail or the technical details of how it came to be. Instead, he profiles key players in the development of the Trail as it has come to exist now and shows how their lives and thoughts and actions proved pivotal in how the Trail got to where it is. Overall a fascinating book about a wide range of people and attitudes about the boundary of civilization and wilderness, written in a very approachable style – much like much of the Trail itself. Very much recommended.