Tom Vater

Tom Vater

Irreverent, informed and downright eclectic crime fiction and reportage from Southeast Asia and beyond

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Steven Seagal loves Sak Yant…and Sacred Skin

A copy of Sacred Skin has found its way into the hands of action actor and martial arts wizard Steven Seagal, via the incredible Sak Yant master Arjanneng Onnut Sakyant!

Delhi – City of Children


Delhi – City of Women


Delhi – City of Men


Helga’s Folly, Sri Lanka – A 20th Century Classic


Gandhi stayed here and Paula Yates loved it. A handsome mansion built in the 1930s, run by the eccentric Helga De Silva, the property is now a faded but incredible Alice-in-Wonderland-meets-Hammer-Horror bohemian ghost ride experience. If you are looking for conventional accommodation, don’t stay here.


Hotels don’t get any more unique than Helga’s Folly. Every inch of wall, floor and ceiling space is covered in paintings, frescoes, murals, photographs, mirrors, sculptures, giant candles and antiques and resonates with the spent souls of past bohemian visitors. Some guests will find the experience disturbing, others liberating. There’s an evident obsession with both death and whimsy visible in the décor, and the 20th century in all its terrible beauty, as perceived by the old moneyed classes, dominates the off-kilter ambience.


One could literally while away hours soaking up the infinite number of small details and mementos of an artistic life well lived. A definite highlight is an encounter with Helga, who makes an appearance, dressed to the nines like Count Dracula, every now and then.


Read the full review in The Daily Telegraph.

Tom Vater – Crime fiction writer, Journalist, Publisher – at

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Road Trip Sri Lanka


I have been traveling in Sri Lanka recently. it was a blast and my first time on the island. Mellow people, so long as you don’t dig into the war (and I was not there for that), luscious green hills, great food, wonderful festivals and no stress.

I did a bunch of hotel reviews for The Daily Telegraph and did some other great writing. Plenty in fact.

With French journalist Laure Siegel, I investigated the island’s burgeoning tattoo scene and met several great tattoo artists. I even got inked.


The best place I stayed was the former home of the last king of Sri Lanka, now called Kandy House, a wonderful country mansion. It’s right in the jungle above Kandy. I had a close encounter with a king cobra there while visiting a local temple, which to my mind was really a spirit meeting, since I am still here to tell the tale.

Thanks to all the wonderful people who helped along the way, especially Harshi Hewage at Manorhouse Concepts in Colombo, Ravi at Ravi Tattoo in Kandy, Helga DeSilva at Helga’s Folly in Kandy, and Dimmu Fernando  in Ja-Ela.


I Love My India


The Devil’s Road to Kathmandu – Review at The Dorset Book Detective


A brand new and very kind review of my first novel, The Devil’s Road to Kathmandu, at The Dorset Book Detective.

A snappy thriller with strong characterisation and witty dialogue, The Devil’s Road to Kathmandu is an entertaining read with as many plot twists as it has droll one liners.
Tom Vater’s novel centres around a group of friends, Dan, Fred, Tim and Thierry, and a shared incident in their pasts which unites them in both fear and greed. Featuring magnificent and often superbly described settings, spanning around the globe and including the Hindu Kush foothills in the 1970s, which are so lavishly depicted that an air of culture and sophistication is lent to an essentially sordid road trip filled with sex, drugs and a battered Bedford bus, through to Kathmandu in the early 2000s, where the violence reaches fever pitch as the protagonists try to unravel a 25 year old mystery.”…

Read the full review here.

Is tourism in Thailand becoming unsustainable? – Interview in The Daily Telegraph


Gavin Haines at The Daily Telegraph on whether mass tourism on Thailand‘s holiday islands is sustainable as visitor numbers continue to go up. I get to put in my five cents worth.

Read the full story here.