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"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer


Esau 

By Philip Kerr
Henry Holt and Company, 372 pp, 1997

It's been a while since I read anything, fiction or non-fiction, about the yeti, or Abominable Showman, or Bigfoot, or whatever you want to call the mythical ape-like creature. I don't know if such a creature exists - I doubt it - but if it does, it's probably in some secret valley or underground chamber, hidden from humans, safe from detection.

That's Philip Kerr's theory in this pleasant and readable novel. 

Renowned mountain climber Jack Furness (an unfortunate name for a protagonist) finds a skull deep inside a cliff in the Himalayas. He gives it to a babe paleoanthropologist, Dr. Stella Swift, who investigates it and concludes it is a fairly recent specimen that belonged to a yeti. 

Looking for fortune and glory, Swift and Furness assemble a team and set up a camp in the Himalayas, in the dead of winter, to find a yeti. 

However, the India-Pakistan conflict is about to explode into war, and a CIA that is desperate for any information inserts a mole on the team, but we don't know who it is (though it's easy to guess). The team is a few hundred miles from any potential war zones, but the operative's job is information and reconnaissance, and to search for an important object (I can't give it away) that the U.S. has lost and must find.

So that's the plot. A bit thin, perhaps, but the action is brisk once the team finds a yeti and the characters are interesting and likeable. No really deep theme or message, other than man destroys everything it touches, so sometimes it's best to let things stay undiscovered. Kerr does make an issue of Swift's atheism, but doesn't do much with it.

All in all, a nice, pleasant, enjoyable book. Glad I bought the hardbound version off the clearance rack for five bucks.

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