Mountain of the Dead combines the genres of mystery, thriller, and horror, and follows an American true-crime writer who is determined to uncover the truth behind a mysterious 1950s Siberian event where nine Russian hikers flee into the night during a blizzard, there to suffer violent, unexplained deaths.
The Dyatlov Pass Incident has long been steeped in mystery, which is just the kind of thing that attracts and spices the life of a substitute teacher with a penchant for Indiana Jones-style action and an interest in the unsolved mysteries of the world.
Indeed, Mountain of Horror is the fifth book in Jeremy Bates' 'World's Scariest Places' series, and charms the imagination with a series of tense encounters based on true experiences and a story line that reads like a combination of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Clive Barker (who happen to be among Bates' favorite authors).
Introducing a story which, to this day, remains one of the most chilling unsolved mysteries of the twentieth century, Bates takes the essence of the puzzle and moves it into the realm of supernatural terror and mystery.
The first thing to note is that nothing is staid or predictable either about the characters or their pursuit. The presence of a white substitute high school teacher with a nose for trouble and shoulder-length hair and a black man named 'Disco' are anything but normal tourists to Russia; while their special interests place them at odds not only with each other, but with the rugged mountain environment that imparted such terror to a group of skiers.
Observations of the Russian environment and the puzzle at hand create a compelling atmosphere that lends realistic background to character encounters: "As I watched the mélange of old and new buildings flash past—classical churches and chapels, trendy-looking restaurants and shops, and shabby Soviet apartment blocks—I couldn’t help but think about Igor Dyatlov and his friends, all of whom had set out from here on their ill-fated expedition in 1959, blissfully un-aware that they would never reach the summit of Mount Ortoten, that they would die sad, and for some, very gruesome deaths, which would spawn more than a half century of lurid conspiracy theories."
Even more notable are the details from the hikers' perspectives as they make their way into a type of danger that usually doesn't come from mountain challenges. As Mr. Smith encounters something he never would have believed in under ordinary conditions, he's forced to confront the presence of a deadly force that authenticates an impossible being. But, is it really the source of the fatal events?
Jeremy Bates keeps readers involved and guessing, providing twists and turns that lead the story line towards the seeming inevitable before taking a big turn in another direction. The result is a powerful thriller that is thoroughly engrossing, packed with surprises, and steeped in the culture and atmosphere of both Russia and a remote mountain world filled with intrigue.
Readers need have no prior familiarity with the previous books in the series: the action and surprises stand well alone and create a compelling, highly recommended tale that's hard to put down.
AUSTRALIAN HORROR WRITERS ASSOCIATION SHADOWS AWARD (WINNER, 2016)
FOREWORD INDIES BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD (GOLD, 2016)
READER VIEWS LITERARY AWARD (WINNER, 2015)
GOODREADS CHOICE AWARD (FINALIST, 2015)
AUSTRALIAN HORROR WRITERS ASSOCIATION SHADOWS AWARD (FINALIST, 2015)
FOREWORD INDIES BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD (FINALIST, 2014)
THE SKOUTZ AWARD (GERMAN, FINALIST 2017)
INDEPENDENT PUBLISHER BOOK AWARD (FINALIST, 2016)
NEXT GENERATION INDIE BOOK AWARD (FINALIST, 2017)