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The Devil's Road to Kathmandu [Kindle Edition]

Tom Vater
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

‘The Devil’s Road To Kathmandu’ by Tom Vater is a tense, fast paced and kaleidoscopic pulp thriller, following the lives of two generations of drifters who become embroiled in a saga of sex, drugs and murder on the road between London and the Indian subcontinent.

In 1976, four friends, Dan, Fred, Tim and Thierry, drive a bus along the hippie trail from London to Kathmandu. En Route in Pakistan, a drug deal goes badly wrong, yet the boys escape with their lives and the narcotics. Thousands of kilometers, numerous acid trips, accidents, nightclubs and a pair of beautiful Siamese twins later, as they finally reach the counter-culture capital of the world, Kathmandu, Fred disappears with the drug money.

A quarter century later, after receiving mysterious emails inviting them to pick up their share of the money, Dan, Tim and Thierry are back in Kathmandu. The Nepalese capital is not the blissful mountain backwater they remember. Soon a trail of kidnapping and murder leads across the Roof of the World. With the help of Dan’s backpacking son, a tattooed lady and a Buddhist angel, the ageing hippies try to solve a 25-year old mystery that leads them amongst Himalayan peaks for a dramatic showdown with their past.

Praise for Tom Vater's The Devil's Road to Kathmandu

The Bangkok Post:
The Devil's Road to Kathmandu is a better backpacker's book than The Beach.

The Nepali Times:
The Devil’s Road, a novel by Tom Vater, is a great read. It’s the story of three 1970s hippies driving a rickety bus overland from Europe through Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India to Kathmandu. Long on naiveté, short on funds, they get involved with a couple of young women, a mysterious Frenchman, a set of Siamese twins who work as cabaret singers, some holy men, and drugs. Big time drugs. The deal they strike in Pakistan, they think, is their opportunity to pay for the entire trip. But get in trouble when it all goes terribly wrong in Kathmandu and the money disappears.
Twenty-five years later the hippies return to Nepal, back on the trail of the lost drug money. One is travelling with his son. I won’t tell you what happens next, nor the story’s climax, only that it’s a riveting read all the way from Hanuman Dhoka to Khumbu.

Lifestyle +Travel:
Three friends, two cities, one bus and a seemingly endless supply of narcotics: a typical GAP year? Maybe not. It’s 1976, and the lads’ road to Kathmandu – through pre-revolution Iran and feudal Pakistan – is paved with self-destructive yet philosophical tendencies; the likes of which have, in the context of today’s North Face-backpacker hegemony, gone the way of the Dodo. Vater sets scenes on a razor edge, catastrophe, oblivion and unbridled passion waiting for these volatile characters to lose their balance - a common fate when you’re stoned out of your tree. Multiple narratives and parallel plots give this book breadth and depth – quite a mind trip, actually, and a rather addictive read.

Untamed Travel:
A harrowing, darkly humorous story of three hippie friends who slum their way from London to Kathamandu in 1976 where they screw up a drug deal, setting in motion consequences that force them to return twenty-five years later. In this first novel, itinerant feature journalist Tom Vater brings to the realm of fiction his trademark vision of a world where deserving has little to do with what you get. A gripping and clever tale of sex, crime, love, narcotics and greed, though not necessarily in that order.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Tom Vater has written non-fiction and fiction books, travel guides, documentary screenplays, and countless feature articles investigating cultural and political trends and oddities in Asia. His stories have appeared in publications such as The Asia Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Times, Marie Claire, Penthouse and The Daily Telegraph. He co-wrote The Most Secret Place on Earth, a feature documentary on the CIA’s secret war in Laos, which has been broadcast in 25 countries. His bestselling book Sacred Skin (, the first English language title on Thailand’s sacred tattoos, has received more than 30 reviews. Tom’s work has led him across the Himalayas, given him the opportunity to dive with hundreds of sharks in the Philippines, and to witness the Maha Khumb Mela, the largest gathering of people in the world. On assignments, he has joined sea gypsies and nomads, pilgrims, sex workers, serial killers, rebels and soldiers, politicians and secret agents, artists, pirates, hippies, gangsters, police men and prophets. Some of them have become close friends.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1724 KB
  • Print Length: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Crime Wave Press (June 22, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008E71INO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #710,047 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great ride April 4, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Vater's got the gift. His portrayals of Pakistan and Nepal, from the past and from today, are spot-on and draw the reader in. With an economical few strokes of the pen, he delivers credible characters that hurdle along a great story. I downloaded the book and spent the next day ignoring Real Life. Entertainment delivered very well, and extra candy for people with an affinity for the romance of the road, for the dreams evoked by the very name in the title...Kathmandu...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Devil Travels in a Bedford September 23, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
There is no question as to how writer Tom Vater came up with the title to his novel, The Devil's Road to Kathmandu--the sheer mix of danger, drugs, and salacious exploits transport the reader straight to the gritty underbelly of the Hippie Trail to follow four friends on the road to chaos. Venturing through both space and time, this story pursues a mystery from a drug deal gone horribly wrong in 1976, to the consequences that surface more than twenty years later as the men retrace their steps to Kathmandu.

Dan, Thierry, Fred, and Tim endeavor to leave their Western ways behind their beaten up Bedford bus and get lost in the rock n' roll lifestyle of Asia, if they only knew just how lost they would get. When a supposedly simple drug deal in the Swat Valley erupts in mayhem, the men escape the bloody feud with their lives and the drugs, and violence imprinted on their minds. Unable to escape their provocative world, various mishaps, drug trips, and women pave their way to Kathmandu, only to then have Fred disappear with the drug money.

25 years later, Dan's son, Robbie, is on his own mission of self-discovery in Kathmandu when his father and the other two remaining men are lured back there by a mysterious e-mail and the promise of seeing their drug money once more. The men, discovering that much has changed in their absence, soon find themselves wrapped up in a tangled web of deceit, corruption, and violence as the story spirals towards one final showdown with the ghosts of their past. With the narrative skillfully weaving between the past and present, the pieces of the puzzle slowly come together and shed light on a mystery that spans over a quarter of a century.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond the Beach February 18, 2013
Four guys in a van, in search of kicks on the road--a time-honored theme. But these four guys are in Pakistan, headed for Kathmandu in 1976,and their entrepreneurial instincts have kicked in hard. Their plan is to buy Afghani opium from the Pathan tribesmen in the Swat Valley, sell it in India, and make a tidy profit to bankroll their travels. But the deal collides with a feud that requires the stern measures of tribal law and things go bloodily awry.

In the beginning of the next century, the son of one of the four travelers is in Kathmandu, searching for his own version of sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. An email from his father throws his vacation off-course--money was made in the ill-fated journey of 1976 and it's finally time for the four guys to collect it. But all four have to sign the withdrawal slip, so it's reunion time in Kathmandu, even though one of the four is dead.

Time twists like a pretzel to great effect in this novel, slowly revealing details from the past to illuminate the present, and the plot holds more curves than a mountain trail in Nepal. Glamorous conjoined twins, a straight-talking woman from Tibet, and a busload of stoned-out freaks who would challenge the leadership skills of Ken Kesey--as well as the Getaway Girl, whose body is a walking art gallery of ink art--the characters in this book take it far above the usual backpacker travel thriller.

So do the descriptions, which are precise, concise, and absolutely stunning. This is a dangerous novel--author Tom Vater knows his territory and he makes his readers want to know it too. When you buy this book, factor in the cost of a trip to Nepal, because you're going to want to go there.

But above all, this book is a smart and compelling suspense novel, leaving The Beach far behind, wheezing and choking in bus exhaust fumes. The Devil's Road to Kathmandu has all of the hallmarks of a new travel classic for this new century--read it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Action, Adventure on the Hippie Trail March 15, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Tom Vater's The Devil's Road to Katmandu is a carefully crafted work, surprisingly so, as a matter of fact. In a genre (travel, adventure)that requires one to be well-experienced in the travel/adventure department but not necessarily well-skilled in the writing department, Vater's work stands head and shoulders above the rest. There are some finely-tuned lines in this book--some really inspired writing, and Vater is careful not to go over-the-top into a froth or sentimentality. The Devil's Road is at times gritty and at times ethereal, almost tranquil. But it's the plot and the action that keeps the reader turning pages,as Dan and his band of misfits and hippies undertake the hippie trail on the promise of a large drug payout. The plot is neatly interwoven in two different strands, twenty years apart. It's a nifty trick and one that can be hard to do. But Vater's footing is secure and the plot carries the reader nicely through to the end. It's a book that would surprise many people who might otherwise overlook it. I recommend it to anyone who loves travel and adventure, but also to anyone who loves the written word.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars a wonderful adventure of young irresponsible and touching Westerners...
Just finished reading The Devil's Road to Kathmandu, a wonderful adventure of young irresponsible and touching Westerners who got wild in the Wild East, discovered its wonders and... Read more
Published 4 days ago by Anna Knott
2.0 out of 5 stars had some violence and in general not the type of book I like.
This book dealt with a lot of drug experiences, had some violence and in general not the type of book I like.
Published 10 months ago by Sharon L Telgemeier
4.0 out of 5 stars decent
A decent read all in all. Vater's experience writing travel guides is obvious in the beautiful descriptions of the locations in this book. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Ruiner
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of The Devil's Road to Kathmandu
The journey taken throughout "THE DEVIL'S ROAD TO KATHMANDU" was so gripping and fun that it has inspired us to go to India; Nepal; and Bhutan this Feb and part of... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Bruce Bart
4.0 out of 5 stars Captures the location and the period extremely well
My first experience of Kathmandu dates back to the days when the flawed heroes of The Devil's Road rolled into town in their beaten up van - and the author has captured the period... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Ron McMillan
5.0 out of 5 stars Bringing you into the journey
The Devil's Road is beautifully written. The visual imagery that is laid out for the reader is so detailed and specific and it made me able to picture everything as if I were... Read more
Published 19 months ago by K. Echegaray
4.0 out of 5 stars Exotic and Exciting!
The exotic settings pave the way for an exciting plot, full of unexpected twists and turns. As the two stories of adventure seekers on the road to Kathmandu converge, the reader is... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Jimpolly
4.0 out of 5 stars Beyond The Beach
Four guys in a van, in search of kicks on the road--a time-honored theme. But these four guys are in Pakistan, headed for Kathmandu in 1976,and their entrepreneurial instincts have... Read more
Published on July 12, 2012 by Janet Brown
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More About the Author

Tom Vater is a writer and publisher working predominantly in Asia. He is the co-owner of Crime Wave Press, a Hong Kong based English language crime fiction imprint.

He has published three novels, The Devil's Road to Kathmandu, currently available in English and Spanish, and The Cambodian Book of the Dead, released by Crime Wave Press in Asia and world wide by Exhibit A and its follow up The Man with the Golden Mind, published by Exhibit A Books in March 2014

Tom has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Times, The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, Marie Claire, Geographical, Penthouse and countless other publications. He is The Daily Telegraph's Bangkok expert.

He has published several non-fiction books, including the highly acclaimed Sacred Skin (with his wife, photographer Aroon Thaewchatturat) and the more recent Burmese Light with photographer Hans Kemp.

Tom is the co-author of several documentary screenplays, most notably The Most Secret Place on Earth, a feature on the CIA's covert war in 1960s Laos.

In his spare time, Tom travels and plays punk rock.


Tom Vater lebt in Bangkok und London. Studium Englischer Literatur und Verlagswesen in Oxford. Vater arbeitet als freischaffender Journalist und Schriftsteller in Asien, vor allem in Thailand, Indien, Laos, Kambodscha und Nepal.
Der deutsche Autor schreibt sowohl auf Deutsch als auch auf Englisch für internationale Magazine und Zeitungen (unter anderem Asia Wall Street Journal, Far Eastern Economic Review, Marie-Claire, Courier International und MERIAN) und hat Dokumentarfilmdrehbücher für das deutsche Fernsehen verfasst. Ist Autor einer Reihe von Büchern über Asien/asiatische Thematiken.
Zu besonderen Interessen zählen Politik, Umwelt, Tourismus und Architektur, sowie Minderheiten und Jugendkulturin Asien.

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