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Breathless by Amy McCulloch


by Amy McCulloch

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Quick take

The chilling story of a mountaineering expedition gone very, very wrong. Make sure you have your oxygen pack ready.

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  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Creepy


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Whodunit


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A high-altitude thriller that will take your breath away—Cecily Wong is on her most dangerous climb yet, miles above sea level. But the elements are nothing compared to one chilling truth: There's a killer on the mountain.

Journalist Cecily Wong is in over her head. She’s come to Manaslu, the eighth-highest peak in the world, to interview internationally famous mountaineer Charles McVeigh on the last leg of a record-breaking series of summits. She’s given up everything for this story—her boyfriend, her life savings, the peace she’s made with her climbing failures in the past—but it’s a career-making opportunity. It could finally put her life back on track.

But when one climber dies in what everyone else assumes is a freak accident, she fears their expedition is in danger. And by the time a second climber dies, it’s too late to turn back. Stranded on a mountain in one of the most remote regions of the world, she’ll have to battle more than the elements in a harrowing fight for survival against a killer who is picking them off one by one.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Breathless.



Breathe, Cecily.

Cold air filled her lungs. It was strange. When she’d pictured breathing up here, she’d assumed it would feel like suffocating. Choking. Maybe, in a way, like drowning.

But it didn’t.

She could feel the sting of the wind on a tiny bit of exposed skin on her cheek, between her buff and her sunglasses, and then a stronger gust against her body, threatening to bring her to her knees.

The air was there. It just wasn’t doing what it was supposed to.

She was so tired. Her muscles struggled to work as she pushed through the snow. Not just her muscles. Her blood. Her lungs. Her brain.

It was simple, really—there wasn’t enough oxygen in the air, less than a third of what her body was used to. The altimeter on her watch read that she was still up above eight thousand meters. In the death zone.

Her heart raced. She looked over her shoulder. Was he following? She stopped in her tracks. A hulking silhouette a few meters above her, his ponderous steps breaking fresh snow, stalking her, chasing her. But no...She blinked and realized it was only the shadow of a cloud on the mountainside.

Without enough oxygen reaching her brain, not even her eyes could be trusted.

So is he coming? Or is he waiting below?

She didn’t think it was possible for her heart to beat faster, but it did, galloping inside her chest. Her breath sped up too as she gulped down the thin air. She swooned, her head spinning.

What did it matter if he was above or below her?

Worry about him later. Worry about survival now.

She moved as fast as her body would let her. A thousand-meter drop was one misstep away. Meanwhile, phantom footsteps haunted her from behind.

She had to get down the mountain.

And she was going to have to do it on her own.

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Why I love it

I don’t always choose a thriller, but honestly, the further I journeyed up the mountain with Cecily, the harder it was to stop reading. This is a fast-paced and totally gripping novel. Make sure to pick up Breathless, I promise you that an adventure awaits!

Everything is high stakes on a mountaineering expedition. One wrong step and you could plummet to your death. Equipment malfunctions can happen and you could seriously injure yourself. Even if you do everything exactly right, the elements of nature are unpredictably harsh. In Breathless, Amy McCulloch masterfully brings the mountain and all of its dangers to vivid life.

Cecily Wong is about to get the scoop of a lifetime. Charles McVeigh, an internationally famous mountaineer, is about to break a record on the eighth-highest peak in the world—and he wants Cecily to cover his ascent. There’s only one condition: to get the interview, Cecily must summit Mount Manaslu with Charles first. Even though she’s a novice climber, Cecily accepts his terms. Her career depends on it. But when someone dies, Cecily starts to wonder if maybe she’s in over her head. As she climbs further up the mountain with no escape, she starts to realize that if the elements don’t kill her, something much more sinister on the mountain just might.

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Member ratings (22,404)

  • Sarah F.

    Monroeville, PA

    It takes a special kind of book to get your heart pounding in your chest. It takes fantastic writing to not see a plot twist coming. Holy cow. I want to read this for the first time again! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Erin K.

    Tampa, FL

    The author did an AMAZING job of describing life as a next-level mountaineer - I appreciated how she turned her real-life expedition into a crime thriller that I just couldn’t put down! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Lindsay Z.

    Olympia, WA

    Really enjoyed this quick little (literal) chiller! Fascinated by mountaineering thus the setting was a plus. Kept me guessing until I’d figured it out, kept me interested until the end! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Alayna M.

    Enumclaw, WA

    I really liked the suspense, and how the author had so much knowledge that she put into the topic of mountaineering. I kept bouncing back and forth on who the killer was. Loved it! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Nicole J.

    Canton, GA

    I never comment but had to for this book. If I could give it more than five stars I would. This is now one of my top 3 favorite books of ALL TIME ❤️❤️❤️ Enthralling from chapter 1 to the last page.

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