‘Kolymsky Heights’ – a place of love, friendship, fear and adventure

by | Jun 9, 2015 | Reviews

25059564Congratulations to Faber for re-printing Davidson’s list. I read Smith’s Gazelle many years ago and was haunted by it. For some reason I never read further until now.

Kolymsky Heights is a place you don’t really want to be. Well, that’s not strictly true because in spite of the bitter cold and near constant dark its a place of love, friendship, adventure and deep intrigue. For sure, Davidson takes us to the Heights from London via Oxford, Toronto, Japan and places you need a high resolution atlas to find, so the book is an exploration of parts of the globe we probably never new existed.

Davidson writes with enough physical detail to paint a formidable picture of Siberia and the dark deeds that take place there. However, he is strangely lacking in emotional detail. Witness this comment: ‘Since leaving the Lucky Strike he had spent every night at the Theosophical Society, the last two of them with Machiko; but this one he spent on his own. It was the last’.

Nevertheless Davidson makes his characters come alive albeit more through what they know and do rather than what they feel. There is depth here, and emotions including love, fear, anger, sadness are present even if inferred rather than explicitly described.

Johny Porter’s plan is near perfect. However, he gets thrown of course by an unexpected and unrelated change of policy from the Kremlin. This oversight builds in its consequences eventually leading to a impromtu exit strategy that cuts his lead time from two days to two minutes and takes him to a part of the planet you probably last heard of, albeit briefly, at O-Level Geography. The last few kilometers are truly unputdownable.

Well worth the read; a great book to take on holiday (and probably a superb plot for a future Bond film).

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