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As near as one can tell, Lionel Davidson has had a career marked by totally random spasms of success.  He had a best seller several years ago (1994) with the excellent thriller Kolymsky Heights a sort of male version of Smilla's Sense of Snow.  So I went back and read his earlier, much earlier, books and they were uniformly excellent.  But he appears to write at a fairly stately pace, reminiscent of Thomas Harris, so the books are few and far between.

Rose of Tibet tells the story of Charles Houston, a footloose school teacher who goes to India in 1950 in search of his half brother who disappeared along with several other members of a film crew.  Houston discovers that the film crew vanished into Tibet, which is facing tremendous pressure from Communist China.  Houston secures a Sherpa guide & makes his own illegal entry into the forbidden country.  He proceeds to get involved with ancient prophecies, religious disputes, Chinese/Tibetan political clashes and four sacks of emeralds.

Were it not for a truly ponderous narrative structure, the story is told by a fictional Lionel Davidson who is a book editor, this would be a thriller of the highest rank.  As is, it scores a tier below Davidson's own high standard as set in Kolymsky Heights which I highly recommend.

(Reviewed:)

Grade: (B+)

  

Websites:

See also:

Lionel Davidson (2 books reviewed)
Thrillers
Lionel Davidson Links:

    -FAN SITE: LionelDavidson.info
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Lionel Davidson (IMDB)
    -FAN SITE: Lionel Davidson (Philip Davidson [author's son])
    -WIKIPEDIA: Lionel Davidson
    -BIO: Lionel Davidson : British novelist (Encyclopædia Britannica)
    -OBIT: Lionel Davidson, 87; wrote popular thrillers in Britain (Margalit Fox, 11/01/09, NY Times)
    -OBIT: Lionel Davidson wrote complex international thrillers (DENNIS BARKER, Nov. 02 2009, Globe and Mail)
    -TRIBUTE: The Genius of Lionel Davidson (B. Kay, National Post)
    -OBIT: Lionel Davidson (Edinburgh News, 11/03/09)
    -OBIT: Lionel Davidson: writer of The Chelsea Murders and Kolymsky Heights (Times of London, November 3 2009)
    -OBIT: Lionel Davidson: Lionel Davidson, who died on October 21 aged 87, wrote thrillers with exotic settings as far apart as Prague, Tibet, Israel and Siberia, as well as several children's books, some of which were written under the name David Line. (The Telegraph, 30 Nov 2009)
    -OBIT: Lionel Davidson: Crime and thriller writer celebrated for his intricate plots and tongue-in-cheek humour (The Independent, 02 December 2009)
    -TRIBUTE: Lionel Davidson: the best spy novelist you might never have read: Lionel Davidson’s high-end espionage thrillers, lost to a generation, are now being revived. Jake Kerridge pays tribute to a forgotten master of the form (Jake Kerridge, 07 Mar 2015, The Telegraph)
    -OBIT: Lionel Davidson obituary: Award-winning writer renowned for thrillers such as The Rose of Tibet and The Chelsea Murders (Dennis Barker, 11/02/09, The Guardian)
    -BOOK LIST: Authors pick their favourite crime novels (Marcel Theroux, Toronto Star)
    -TRIBUTE: Forgotten authors No.37: Lionel Davidson (CHRISTOPHER FOWLER, 06 September 2009, Independent)
    -TRIBUTE : Goodbye to a fine author (Peter Hitchens, 11/09/09, Mail on Sunday)
    -TRIBUTE: Lionel Davidson Revisited (Peter Hitchens, 10/17/14, Mail on Sunday)
    -AUTHOR PAGE: Lionel Davidson (Stop You're Killing Me)
    -AUDIO: Interview with Colin Maclaren – late 1980s
    -PROFILE: Lionel Davidson (Russell James, Shots)
    -AWARD: Diamond Dagger (2001) (Crime Writers Association)
    -ARCHIVES: "lionel davidson" (NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Kolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson (Janes Carroll, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Kolymsky Heights (Natasha Fairweather, Moscow Times)
    -REVIEW: of Kolymsky Heights (JOE MOORE, Sun-Sentinel)
    -REVIEW: of Kolymsky Heights (Independent)
    -REVIEW: of Kolymsky Heights (Barry Turner, Daily Mail)
    -REVIEW: of Kolymsky Heights (People Magazine)
    -REVIEW: of Kolymsky Heights (Stevie Davies, Gulf Today)
    -REVIEW: of Kolymsky Heights (Maxton Walker, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Kolymsky Heights (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of Kolymsky Heights (Nicolla Mira, Thriller Books Journal)
    -REVIEW: of Kolymsky Heights (UpComing4Me)
    -REVIEW: of Kolymsky Heights (For Winter Nights)
    -REVIEW: of NIGHT OF WENCESLAS. By Lionel Davidson (NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Smith's Gazelle by Lionel Davidson (NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Rose of Tibet by Lionel Davidson (Orville Prescott, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Rose of Tibet by Lionel Davidson (Kirkus Reviews)
    -FILM REVIEW: of Lionel Davidson: 'The Chelsea Murders' - 1978 (Dermot Kavanagh, London Fictions)

Book-related and General Links:
    -Lionel Davidson (Stop You're Killing Me)
    -REVIEW : of KOLYMSKY HEIGHTS By Lionel Davidson (James Carroll, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of Kolymsky Heights (Mystery Guide)
    -Real Audio REVIEW: Rose of Tibet (NPR, Alan Cheuse)
    -AWARDS : Dagger Awards (About.com)

If you liked Rose of Tibet, try:

Easterman, Daniel
    -The Ninth Buddha

Hopkirk, Peter
    -The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia

Kipling, Rudyard
    -Kim (Read Orrin's review, Grade: A)
    -The Man Who Would Be King

Comments:

I read Rose of Tibet years ago when I was still commuting to work on the NYC subway system. The writing was so good and intense that I had to close the book during the escape scene--just couldn't get my breath--and start in again later. I think Davidson is a terrific writer and like you say his books are few and far between so I was thrilled when Kolymsky Heights came out. Hope he produces another book soon before I die!

- freddi

- Aug-26-2008, 11:51

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