When James Walker first arrives at Tudor College, Cambridge, he is anxious to find his place among new friends. By accident, he encounters one of the members of a club calling itself the Tudor Night Climbers, a tightly knit, wealthy, secretive and tantalizingly eccentric circle of undergraduates who at night scale the college towers and gargoyles in pursuit of ever greater sensations. Seduced by their talent for decadence and high living, James falls for the reckless charisma of both Francis, the group's ringleader and Jessica, his beautiful best friend. Jessica becomes his obsession, and also his arch rival for Francis's friendship.
The group's tear-away extravagance is funded, unwittingly, by Francis's father, Lord Soulford, but when suddenly he cuts his son off, the friends are left floundering, until Francis embroils them all in a plan that will test not only their friendship, but also their very souls. The story begins with the news that, almost ten years after the crime, the fake Picasso they replaced the real one with is in danger of being discovered. The beautiful Jessica visits the narrator/lawyer James at his office in order to see what trouble they might be in, and the story flashes back and forth in time, also following the present narrative as they figure out whether they can save themselves.
Humming with intellectual energy and grace, The Night Climbers portrays people at their most impressionable, when the intensity of early relationships stand to define their lives forever. Seductive and sinister, The Night Climbers is an exciting debut by a talented young writer.
There were security barriers in the foyer, thick glass turnstiles that fell open when you stuck the right card in the slots. The receptionists, however, were the real security. "Can I help you?" rang out across the lobby from behind the desk like "Who goes there?" from a battlement. It was a surprise, therefore, to find Jessica sitting in my black leather chair, waiting for me to return from the basement gym where I had spent a cathartic lunch break pummeling my personal trainer, sweating out the last drops of the previous night's whiskey. I knew from the way she looked at me, tilting her head forward and peering out from under her blond bangs while she gave me a lopsided smile, that she had lied her way in. Her expression was just as I remembered it when we'd gotten away with something, and it pulled me back into the past with the force of a scent. At thirty-two she was already losing her looks. They were not going gracefully, with the haunting quality that briefly ...
Although clearly the work of a writer relatively young in years, The Night Climbers hits many notes firmly on key. The plot takes many twists, some more unexpected than others and, overall, rises above the potentially clichéd setting and premise to deliver a seductive and at times sinister tale.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (703 words).
Cambridge, the second oldest university in the English-speaking world, is located in the East of England. It is said that it was established by a group of scholars in the early 13th century who left Oxford (which was established in the 11th century) after two of their number were accused of murdering a local and hung by town authorities. Today, Cambridge consists of 31 colleges, of which three are all-female; the last all-male college, Magdalene (pronounced maudlin), started to admit women in ...
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