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The Abominable    by Dan Simmons order for
by Dan Simmons
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Author Dan Simmons has a well-deserved reputation for writing 'thoughtful, inventive, clever, and action-packed' novels. Perhaps many of his novels should also be described as massive. His latest offering, The Abominable, is no exception.

The Abominable begins in an intriguing way. With fiction disguised as nonfiction journalism, the author, in an introductory section, tells readers about what purports to have been his 1991 interview with the famous mountain climber and adventurer, eighty-nine year old Jake Perry. As the introduction continues, the author explains that only recently (in 2011) had he belatedly received a UPS shipment from one of Perry's relatives, and that shipment included the deceased Perry's memoirs in the form of 12 handwritten notebooks. The novel that follows, the author assures us, is merely a transcription of Perry's tale; other editions including illustrations, he also assures us (with his tongue in cheek), will be separately available.

With that meta-fictional flourish out of the way, Dan Simmons' slowly unfolding tale involves three professional mountain climbers: Perry, an American; Richard Deacon, an Englishman; and Jean-Claude Clairox, a Frenchman. The year is 1924, and the three men have been asked by the distraught Lady Elizabeth Marion Bromley to find out what happened to her son who had been lost during an attempted ascent of Mount Everest a year earlier. The 'permanently broken hearted' and somewhat 'deranged' Lady Bromley prevails upon Perry, Deacon, and Clairox, but there is an absolute condition to her generously funded mission: they must be accompanied by the lost son's cousin.

When the climbers are about to begin their quest in the summer of 1925, when weather conditions are most favorable, they finally meet the Bromley cousin. To say that the three men are shocked and concerned would be an understatement. Nevertheless, the mission of mercy will go forward, even though Perry admits, 'We have absolutely no concept of what lies ahead for us.' And therein lies another understatement. Whether it be Germans (with their Nazi mentalities), the mountain itself (with all of its unpredictability), or something even more sinister (perhaps the legendary Yeti - the abominable snowman), what lies ahead for the three men (and the unwelcomed cousin) is absolute danger.

The bottom line is this: If you are looking for a heavy-weight, 672-page adventure in which suspense, danger, and excitement are skillfully blended with tons of world-class mountain-climbing details, then The Abominable is your sure-fire entertainment for more than a few hours of leisurely reading. Enjoy!

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