cover image Esau


Philip Kerr. Henry Holt & Company, $22.5 (372pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-5175-9

British author Kerr follows The Grid with an accomplished hybrid of science and Spielberg, in which readers journey to a pristine, mystical locale high in the Himalayas. Jack Furness, America's greatest mountain climber, is the only survivor of an ill-fated--and illegal--assault on Machhapuchhare, a huge peak considered holy by the Nepalese. He returns to the U.S. and presents his former lover, paleoanthropologist Stella Swift, with a hominoid skull he found in an ice cave on the mountain. The skull turns out to be not a fossil but the remains of a yeti--more popularly known as an Abominable Snowman. Stella and Jack quickly assemble an expedition whose nominal purpose is fossil-finding on a neighboring mountain, but whose real purpose is to trap a yeti in order to advance both science and their own glory. What they don't know is that the Pentagon has an interest in this region as well, and has inserted a secret agent into the expedition. The daredevil feats of the mountaineers, the impossible cold and the endless miles of glacier and snow in the little-visited Annapurna Sanctuary make this novel a marvelous armchair travelogue, but it's far more: a complicated yet visceral thriller in which monsters, human and otherwise, roam the earth and hunt each other. Convincing scientific and technological detail will have readers believing easily in yetis and other wonders of the world's highest mountains; they will even forgive the unabashed sentimentality of the ending. Kerr manages his large cast of characters with a sure hand, while the plot gathers speed and power like a Himalayan avalanche. Rights (except electronic): A.P. Watt. (May)