240p. (Peak Marcello Adventure). HMH. May 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544867598.
Peak Marcello has scaled New York City skyscrapers, climbed Mount Everest, and suffered an ill-fated expedition in the Pamirs of Afghanistan (Peak, rev. 5/07; The Edge, rev. 9/15). Now he's in Myanmar, about to climb the isolated mountain Hkakabo Razi and determine (using GPS technology) whether or not it's the highest peak in Southeast Asia. Joining him from The Edge are his friends Alessia, Ethan, and "cagey monk" and climbing expert Zopa. Smith knows how to develop suspense, and this tale has two parts-a journey through the rainforest (with such perils as giant snakes, a murderous elephant, soldiers bearing assault rifles, and a slingshot-wielding ?Burmese porter firing lethal ball bearings) and the ascent of Hkakabo Razi itself (with the usual perils of cold, avalanche, and potentially plummeting off the side of the mountain). When Ethan is almost killed and Alessia has to get him to a hospital, only Peak, Zopa, and a small contingent of experts are left to make the ascent. And, sure enough, the weather doesn't cooperate, disaster strikes, and the climb and their lives are in jeopardy. Fortunately, this is a twenty-first-century climb, and drones, cellphones, and helicopters ease the danger a bit. Though each series installment can stand on its own, Smith weaves them together with his cast of characters and the promise of suspense and political intrigue so that readers new to the series can dive right in, and readers who have followed from the beginning can join up with old friends for another intelligent and lively adventure. dean Schneider

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