Wednesday, August 6, 2014

now here's something refreshingly different: The Devil's Road to Kathmandu, by Tom Vater

kindle copy
Crime Wave Press
(also in paperback)

I'll be on this indie writer/indie press kick for a while since I have so many small-press books in my library, and some on my kindle (although I really don't prefer ebooks over real ones). First up is a book by author Tom Vater, who is not only a crime writer, but who also co-founded Crime Wave Press. As the little blurb at Crime Wave's website notes,
"Founded in 2012 by publisher Hans Kemp of Visionary World and writer Tom Vater, Crime Wave Press publishes a range of crime fiction - from whodunits to Noir and Hardboiled, from historical mysteries to espionage thrillers, from literary crime to pulp fiction, from highly commercial page turners to marginal texts exploring our planet's dark underbelly." 
Can we say right up my alley? So having heard about this small press, I decided to give The Devil's Road to Kathmandu a read, and now I'm planning on reading my way through this publishing company. Not all at once for sure, but their books will be worked into my regular crime fiction reads.

The Devil's Road to Kathmandu is divided into two different time periods, but moves easily back and forth across both; not an easy task for some writers, but here the author does it most assuredly.  In 1976, three British hippie friends Fred, Tim and Dan, make a plan to drive across Asia  to India  to buy drugs and then sell them again once they reach Nepal.  They buy a Bedford bus specifically for the trip; as Dan says to his friends, "We've got the opportunity to do something different with our lives."  They are pretty much stoned all of the time, pot, acid, opium, you name it they did it, but it's a great adventure.  In Ishafan, Iran,  the trio adds another traveler to the mix, Thierry, from France, whom they met at a nightclub called the Blue Parrot. It seems that Thierry owes some money to the wrong people and needs to make an escape.  He  joins the adventure as they make their way into Pakistan, which  turns out to be a nightmare, but the group makes it into India and finally into Nepal, where they decide to bank the drug money they've made.  Dan and Tim fly on home, Thierry decides to stay and wait for the woman he loves, and Fred just  disappears. Flash forward to 2000, and now Dan's son Robbie has gone on his own journey in the same area.  He meets up with his dad, who has returned to Kathmandu after all this time, drawn there by an email from the long-lost Fred who reminds him that the money's still there and he & Tim should come and get it. Unfortunately for all, it seems that their pasts have come back to haunt them.

There are plenty of unique, crazy and offbeat characters that fill this novel, and the author has a keen eye for detail.  The part of this story that took place in the Blue Parrot is one of my favorites, and is an excellent example of how the author sets a scene that sucks the reader right into the action. Using impressive descriptions, dialogue that's totally believable and creating such a realistic atmosphere that you feel like you're actually there along with the boys from the bus drinking it all in, he's created a world out of this nightclub that I hated to leave. And that's only one instance ... he does the same where ever the action is -- in Pakistan, India, and most especially in Kathmandu.  This is definitely not your average crime novel, which is a very good thing. Definitely and most highly recommended.

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