I first read Kolymsky Heights during a heatwave a few years ago in Ukraine. Lying sweltering in an unbearably stuffy hotel room in Kiev, I'd never felt colder, immersed in the bone-chilling world of hero Johnny Porter, huddled in the depths of the Siberian winter. Kolymsky Heights is, on first analysis, just another spy thriller. First published in , it is essentially a late cold war era man-on-a-mission thriller — with the emphasis firmly on the word cold. Porter is the only westerner who can hope to break into and out of a top secret scientific research base that is literally hidden inside a mountain in Siberia. So secret is this base that nobody who ever enters is allowed to leave alive.
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Return to Book Page. Preview — Kolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson. Kolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson. From the heart of Siberia have come coded messages implying a mysterious secret to be entrusted to only one man. How that individual gets in, finds the contacts, and tries to get the secret out is a masterpiece of wrenching excitementand immensely intelligent storytellling. Lionel Davidson is an award-winning author critically acclaimed on a par with le Carre, Forsyth and From the heart of Siberia have come coded messages implying a mysterious secret to be entrusted to only one man.
Lionel Davidson is an award-winning author critically acclaimed on a par with le Carre, Forsyth and Follett. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. Published September 1st by St.
Martin's Press first published August 15th More Details Original Title. Anthony Award Nominee for Best Novel Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Kolymsky Heights , please sign up.
Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Kolymsky Heights. Jan 31, Luffy rated it it was amazing Shelves: 5-star , page-turner.
I have never reached the last page of a book, then started reading it from page one without missing a beat. But I came close with this book. A newspaper describes this as the best thriller these past 25 years. I think that what books like I Am Pilgrim fails to do, this book accomplishes and ticks every box.
There is a lot of work that has gone into the book. And a lot of thought too. Kolymsky Heights is vivid and original. Thousands of years ago, the people from Siberia migrated through what is no I have never reached the last page of a book, then started reading it from page one without missing a beat.
Thousands of years ago, the people from Siberia migrated through what is now the Bering Strait, came to North America and came to be called Indians. However Canadian Indians are different, since they retained their original features. The Bering Strait is the key to the story. Due to the ease of ebooks, you don't need to beg, borrow, or steal it. I heartily recommend Kolymsky Heights. View all 9 comments. If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.
That was what drew me in! Page turning narrative, and the writing of place is superb; Davidson takes me to the Siberian wilderness every bit as much as any travel writer ever has.
This is my first novel from him. I came acro If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. I came across this first novel, from a friend of mine.
Davidson has two deep traits: how sentences and how characters work. Both are deployed superbly in the Story: the syntax drew me into the very thought processes, what it is to be the fascinating characters he depicts. For most of the books I read, I always write lots of notes to allow me, later on, to breeze through the review.
And that is actually not a bad thing. If you're into Spy Fiction of the Ian Fleming variety, read on. View 2 comments. Mar 13, Paul rated it it was amazing Shelves: crime-thrillers. As someone who has enjoyed reading classic adventure thrillers from the inter war period of the 20s and 30s it reminded me very much of that excellent but long forgotten genre. Kolymsky Heights is an adventure, with spy —espionage wrapped up in a thriller out in the frozen tundra of Siberia.
How he managed to get the research about some of the most isolated places on earth that Russia does not allow foreigners unless they are sentenced there. The isolation of Siberia the darkness of winter, and the harshness of the place seeps through the pages the imagery the writing brings is absolutely fantastic. I struggle with English and my bar French and German! All this requested by a Russian scientist, Rogachev, who had met Johnny many years before at a conference at Oxford University.
We see how he is trained as a Korean sailor on a Japanese tramp boat that will sail to the arctic north, the last ship through before it freezes over get off and somehow go to work in his Siberian adventure.
How he is able to gain entry to Siberia how he survives and completes his mission is pure adventure while his potential escape is the thriller how he has to keep in front of the Russian Security Service. He knows they will hunt him down like a rabbit and they will not stop until they have him, he knows he is alone and must use his wits to survive. Lionel Davidson produced an excellent book with Kolymsky Heights and it is unfortunate that we will never get a sequel but this is a pure pleasure to read.
It is a page turner in the classic style and Davidson is a wonderful storyteller that can make you believe whatever he wrote on a page. Weird, annoying and overly long, this is not "the best thriller ever" as claimed by Philip Pullman in the intro. Written in , it was re-released last year, and having heard about it from a normally reliable friend, I bought it then, but took a while to get to it, then took an even longer while to finish it. I've plodded on through chapter after chapter of excruciating detail about Johnny's journey to deepest darkest Siberia, waiting for the payoff that didn't come.
It all felt completely poi Weird, annoying and overly long, this is not "the best thriller ever" as claimed by Philip Pullman in the intro. It all felt completely pointless: mysterious goings on in a research base involving a prehistoric corpse, so the CIA go to all the trouble of tracking down the One Man who can get in there, and sending him off, then pretty much abandoning him to his fate. Meanwhile Johnny, with no personal stake in the mission, gamely risks both his and a lot of innocent Russians, to bring back something of ultimately minor interest.
There are some entertaining minor characters and I feel I now know enough about Siberia to not want to go there, but really this was a waste of precious reading time. Mar 11, James rated it liked it Shelves: thriller , fiction. If you are the type of person who while watching some blockbuster thriller thinks to themselves I am enjoying this hand to hand combat between the hero and the evil henchman on top of a gondola in the alps but I wonder how he got there in the first place, did he buy a return ticket?
Did he ask for the ticket in English or did he ask for it in the local language, maybe he rented a car, I wonder if he put in on a credit card, than this is so the book for you. Finally at long last a thriller which r If you are the type of person who while watching some blockbuster thriller thinks to themselves I am enjoying this hand to hand combat between the hero and the evil henchman on top of a gondola in the alps but I wonder how he got there in the first place, did he buy a return ticket?
Finally at long last a thriller which reflects the presumably rather mundane life of secret agents as they travel to all manner of far away locations with a meticulous logging of all the steps this takes. This does make the book rather plodding in parts but it's a mesmerizing plod, a plod which one rather enjoys and it unfolds with stately grace seldom encountered in a thriller.
There some minor distractions in the form of Russian scientists, an amorous health officer, secret science breakthroughs, enigmatic heroes and a stirring chase at the end. Mostly though it's a very pleasant zen of travel. Perfect I would imagine for the trans Siberian railway. Apr 16, James Harris rated it liked it.
If you watch a Bond film thinking: well yes, all this excitement and adventure is all very well, but how does Bond book his plane tickets, and how many stops does he have along the way? But the actual infiltration takes up about 30 pages of a page novel. The rest is about getting him to the base, and boy do we If you watch a Bond film thinking: well yes, all this excitement and adventure is all very well, but how does Bond book his plane tickets, and how many stops does he have along the way?
The rest is about getting him to the base, and boy do we read about that in minute detail, and a bit of getting him out. Weird storytelling decision that, but I assume it's deliberate. Anyway, it's interesting but pretty far from thrilling.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers.
Kolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson (1994)
By Peter White. The BBC Studios-backed firm has optioned The 39 Steps -esque novel, which was originally published in but was republished by Faber in after it became one of the most requested out of print titles at UK bookstores. His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman has described it as one of his favorite thrillers. It tells the story of an Oxford Professor, who receives an envelope containing nothing but two cigarette papers, which begins a chain of events that will change the course of history. It has all the flair of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy , combined with the awe of The Revenant , and in Johnny Porter it has that same elemental will to survive at its core.
I saw this book in several second-hand bookshops before I picked it up for a pound imagining, from the stylish cover, that Davidson was one of the new young generation of thriller writers. How wrong I was. Is it any good? Does it make me want to go in search of his other seven thrillers? We are introduced to a fusty old don in Oxford, Professor Lazenby. His secretary, Miss Sonntag, opens a letter from Sweden which turns out to be empty. Until the prof roots around in the bottom of it and finds some cigarette papers.
A book for the beach: Kolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson
Kolymsky Heights is a thriller novel by Lionel Davidson. A coded message is smuggled out of Russia , a plea for help from a supersecret laboratory deep in the frozen wastes of Siberia. The note is addressed to Johnny Porter, a Canadian Indian of the Gitxsan tribe with a genius for languages and disguises, and reluctantly he is forced to slip across the border on a rescue mission, the consequences of which he little imagines. The detailed picture of life in the Kolyma region and of the native peoples of the Russian Far East such as the Evenks and British Columbia such as the Tsimshian is impressive. Philip Pullman has said of the novel: "The best thriller I've ever read, and I've read plenty. A solidly researched and bone-chilling adventure in a savage setting, with a superb hero. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.