David W. Berner published a wonderful and erudite review of The Devil’s Road to Kathmandu at Medium.
Hippies, drugs, a road trip, and crime. What could go wrong?
Not much, in terms of literary missteps.
The Devil’s Road to Kathmandu by author Tom Vater is a throttle to the floor story. It’s a crime novel, but it’s not. It’s a travel story, but it’s not. It’s a misfits’ story, but it’s not. It’s a story of lost dreams, but it’s not.
And this is what makes it appealing. It is not always what you expect, what it seems, and doesn’t hold to the typical crime novel narrative.
The story follows the lives of drifters who fall into drugs, sex, and murder beginning on a bus ride from England to Kathmandu. If you‘ve read Hippie, by Paulo Coelho, it is generally the same road trip taken in that story. But is not that journey. Although in Devil’s Road there are wonderfully beautiful passages about the landscape and the people of the area, much like Coelho’s book, this is not a story of personal discovery. This is a far different book, one about misguided trust, mislaid plans, the power of lust and money, and the dark side of what was left of the hippie dream.
The book travels in two eras at the same time, and this approach makes for a read full of “ah-ha” moments. It reveals truths and motivations, and long-held issues between the characters and their pasts. There’s even a kind of philosophical theme running through the story. One line of many in the book makes that clear: “It’s better to travel hopefully than to arrive.”
The Devil’s Road to Kathmandu is an addictive read.
Read the full review here.
Buy The Devil’s Road to Kathmandu here.