cover image Death in High Places

Death in High Places

Jo Bannister. Minotaur, $25.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-312-57353-9

For the four years since those desperate hours on a snow-lashed Alaskan ridge, British climber Nicky Horn hasn't stopped blaming himself for the death of his best friend, Patrick Hanratty, in a fall. Worse yet, neither has Patrick's gangster father. But just as a hired gun grabs Nicky, a mysterious Good Samaritan, Robert McKendrick, intervenes and whisks Nicky off to his%E2%80%94no kidding%E2%80%94castle in the English countryside. And if you find that a bit improbable, you're in for a rough trek through this fiendishly plotted but frequently preposterous stand-alone from Bannister (Fathers and Sins). Once holed up inside the castle, Nicky gradually discovers that his crossing paths with McKendrick was no accident, and that McKendrick's daughter, Beth, was no stranger to Patrick. Despite the many ensuing surprises, the novel devolves into something akin to a three-handed poker game%E2%80%94suspenseful but limited by its staginess. (Aug.)