The Last Climb: A Novel of Suspense

Thomas H. Cosgrove, Author
Thomas H. Cosgrove, Author Simon & Schuster $23 (304p) ISBN 978-0-684-83414-6
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Cosgrove, a mountaineer recognized for his exploits on the world's celebrated peaks, might have been better advised to leave the scaling of literary heights to someone else. World-class alpinist Jim Bridgeman is broke and stranded in Cuzco, Peru, after an ill-fated attempt to climb the previously unconquered summit of mythical Nevado Viracocha ends with the death of three companions. He takes a job guiding a Vatican priest to the fabled lost city of Karoma in search of an aging holy man, leader of the oppressed indigene (natives), only to find himself in the center of a peasant revolution. Betrayed and taken prisoner by the evil overlord of the dictatorial haciendos (landowning elite), Jim escapes from a lead mine, and, at the urging of the priests and a young native woman, he assumes leadership of an indigene uprising to take back the land from the enslaving political power brokers. Then Jim faces the biggest moral and physical challenge of his life: fighting for the Peruvian peasants' autonomy and confronting the highest peak in the Andes mountains--now with a price on his head. He seeks asylum near the border, but finds that his battles are not over yet. This vividly imagined plot and setting promises more than it delivers; burdened with obscure Peruvian idioms, the narrative is vague and disjointed. The necessary sense of history and landscape is unsatisfyingly explored, but thankfully there are some reliable mountain-climbing vignettes, where Cosgrove is finally on solid ground. Agent, Michael Hamilburg. (Mar.)
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