The Contest by Karen Hamilton #review

Book cover of The Contest by Karen Hamilton

Title: The Contest
Karen Hamilton
Publisher: Wildfire


Rival travel guides Florence and Jacob are selected to lead two groups climbing Kilimanjaro, a challenge set by their eccentric boss. It’s an annual getaway with their exclusive clientele, but this time the stakes are higher than ever before – because whomever wins will claim the ultimate prize: the top job.

For Florence, this trip was already about much more than winning. Unbeknownst to her colleagues, she’s on the hunt for answers after a tragic accident at a prior retreat left her fiancé in a coma. And for Jacob, it was only ever about one thing: impressing his father, the owner of the company.

But when one of their fellow team members is killed in suspicious circumstances, they realise that the stakes are about more than winning or losing. It may be a fight to the death.

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My review:

The Contest is a fairly slow-burning psychological thriller, which takes the reader on an exclusive, VIP trip to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. We follow Florence and Jacob, both travel agents for Blackmore Vintage Travel (BVP), so the chapters switch between their perspectives. Their controlling boss, Hugo, has set them several tasks for the trip with a big cash prize, and both of them are determined to win. But there’s an overlying sense of danger and secrets amongst the staff at BVP as the climb continues and the pressure builds – in every sense.

I enjoyed the mountain location in this book; it felt simultaneously awe-inspiring (I could imagine some of those amazing views!) and threatening because of how isolated it is. There are some twists and turns in the plot but, for me,the enjoyment was in reading about the trek itself, which is evidently well-researched and realistic, and how the characters dealt with their situations The underlying sense of mystery was an added bonus. There’s not an unnecessary amount of drama in this book, other than Hugo’s excessive behaviour, and I enjoyed unearthing the true nature of the characters as their past behaviour casts them in a different light.

The Contest isn’t a fast-paced, action-packed novel – the second half ramps up the tension a bit but most of it is fairly slow-paced but still intriguing. Most of the characters were not likeable but I liked that they weren’t! I enjoyed the alternating narratives and raced through this book in no time.

My rating: 4/5


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