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.
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.
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.