Rarely have I seen literary fiction combine with a pacy narrative as effectively as in Ronald Malfi’s thriller set in the Himalayas.
After the death of his wife in an accident, sculptor Timothy Overleigh’s life is thrown into disarray. He finds it difficult to sculpt anymore, and is haunted by the ghost of his wife. Frustrated by his inability to sculpt, he takes to extreme adventure sports and in one of his caving expeditions, has a near-fatal accident which leaves him homebound for months. While he struggles to come to terms with his wife’s ghost’s recurring appearances and his guilt for her death, he receives an invitation from an old acquaintance, Andrew Trumbaer, to seek the Canyon of Souls, a valley across the Godesh Ridge in Nepal.
A team of seven men (including Timothy) handpicked by Andrew undertake the expedition. During their journey, they have to face the challenges that the mountains throw at them and also overcome the friction due to their individual backgrounds. Soon the adventurous expedition turns into a battle against the elements, against the adventurers and subsequently against death itself.
The plot and pace of the book reminded me of a slew of thriller movies most notably The Final Destination. Nevertheless Malfi holds the reader glued with his narrative style. Even though he confesses never having attempted to climb a mountain, Malfi’s description of the mountains is good enough to transport you into the icy Himalayas. The characters are etched well with most of them having a distinct personality. The plot is well structured except for the climax which does seem a bit cliched and farfetched.
Malfi’s best however is seen in the way he juxtaposes Tim’s struggle to overcome the death of his wife with the battles the expedition has to fight in its quest. Both are woven together with ease, and it never appears to stutter the plot.
I’d recommend The Canyon Of Souls to those who want a breezy read. If you’ve loved reading thrilling page-turners, this book is right up your alley.