Thursday, September 26, 2013

Powder Burn / Mark Chisnell

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Action-Adventure

Approximate word count: 60-65,000 words

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Raised on the east coast of England, Mark Chisnell left home to travel the world where he raced sailboats (participating in the America’s Cup) and other adventures. Before turning to fiction he wrote numerous books and magazine articles on sailing as well as working in television. He now has several novels available. Powder Burn kicks off a new series starring Samantha “Sam” Blackett.

For more, visit Chisnell’s website.


“Sam had given up her Manhattan job, and her cute apartment in Brooklyn. She’d abandoned her astonished boyfriend to the charms of ESPN, and flown off into a new dawn to chase her dream of becoming an investigative journalist.

Three months later, alone in a soulless internet café, she’s facing some cold, hard facts; she’s unpublished, unhappy and broke. And right then, the gorgeous Pete Halland blows into her life – headed for the mythical Powder Burn mountain to write history and blast into legend.

If she throws in her lot with Pete and reports the story for National Geographic magazine it could rescue her ambitions, but he’s holding back some crucial information – the question for Sam is... what?”


There was a time when I read a lot of books that were in a non-fiction subgenre that, for lack of a better term, I’ll call armchair mountaineering. Most of those I read are long out of print, but a relatively recent and well known example is Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air. Many of those took place in the Himalayan mountains, as does Powder Burn. Although the story largely takes place in a fictional Himalayan kingdom, Chisnell’s descriptions of the area and the personalities of the types of people who find adventure there fit reality, or at least my perception of it formed from reading those other books.

The story, which I don’t want to say much about, is also different from the typical thriller due to the setting and the personalities involved. Of the main characters, some of them you’ll like (especially Sam, the protagonist), some you won’t, and others you’ll feel ambiguous about, but all add to the tale in a good way. A fun, relatively quick read and a great start to the series.


A small amount of adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four stars

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