The White Road

Written by Sarah Lotz

Review written by Maureen Ellis

Maureen Ellis is a keen reader in the crime genre. She regularly posts on

The White Road
Hodder & Stoughton
RRP: £16.99 / £6.99
Released: May 04, 2017
Hbk /Ebook

“Who is the third who walks always beside you?

When I count, there are only you and I together

But when I look ahead up the white road

There is always another one walking beside you

Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded

I do not know whether a man or a woman

-But who is that on the other side of you?”

T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land and Other Poems

Simon Newman is described as an 'adrenalin junkie' (though in reality he's a bit of a slacker, a drifter) His friend and colleague Thierry (with whom he runs the creepy website' Journey To The Dark-Side') persuades him to take on risky pursuits in their desire for fame and fortune.

The story begins in the underground Cwm Pot cave system in the heart of Wales. Simon has enlisted the help of experienced caver Ed (a somewhat dodgy character) he met online. The cave system has been closed to the general public, following the deaths of a group of cavers some years previously, and their remains are still down there.

Herein lies the real reason that Simon and Thierry have chosen this particular cave system - they want footage of the dead bodies for their website. Insensitive to the feelings of the victims’ families, they plough ahead with their mission. However, things go disastrously wrong and Simon barely escapes with his life. Internet footage goes viral, and gives them a taste of the fame they crave, but what happened down there will have lasting repercussions for Simon.

Following on from Cwm Pot, and eager to capitalise on their internet footage, Thierry decides to send Simon to Mount Everest, to obtain video footage of the remains of climbers who'd died in their quest to reach the summit. Thierry manages to acquire the money needed for Simon to join a team who are about to climb Everest, but of course he has to keep the real reason he's there to himself.

This was an unusual storyline, but the author captured the claustrophobic feel of the Cwm Pot cave system particularly well, ensuring that the reader experiences Simon's panic at being trapped, his desperate struggle for breath in the tiny confined spaces. Ditto his experience on Mount Everest - the sheer physical effort and determination needed to achieve success on such a difficult climb, whilst fighting altitude sickness at the same time, is to be admired. However, both in the cave systems, and on Mount Everest, Simon has experienced the 'third man' syndrome, whereby a person senses an unseen presence, usually thought to bring comfort in times of trauma, and it's this that really sets this book apart, giving the narrative a very dark feel to it.

I found this to be quite an absorbing, though creepy tale, and the author created plenty of tension. The characters however, left a lot to be desired, there wasn't a single one with whom I felt an affinity. I still enjoyed it, and for the most part it flowed well, but I thought the story lost it's way towards the end of the book.

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