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Nepali Times

Fri, 1 Mar 2013

Gerry Virtue is a New Zealander living in Australia with a long attachment to Nepal. He started life as a pharmacist, but moved on to become a trek and adventure travel operator and ran a ballooning company in Kathmandu Valley.With his business partner Chris Dewhurst and filmed by Leo Dickinson, they ballooned over Everest in 1987 from Gokyo lake to Tibet, a feat so amazingly daring that they were lucky to survive.

Kathmandu’s congestion put an end to ballooning, and Virtue moved to Australia. But he obviously misses the action, so he has written a thriller novel set in Kathmandu.

Kathmandu, the Novel was launched last week and is the first of a two part series that gallops through a rip-roaring story of adventure and intrigue in the Himalaya. There are almost-believable conspiracies, larger-than-life characters who will be familiar to anyone who knows the Valley: the bemused newly-arrived aid worker, vulnerable blond backpacker, charming kitchen boy, devastatingly attractive Khampa shopkeeper, menacing Englishman with sinister intent, double dealing Maoist insurgent, and a sage fatherly sadhu with unusual links to military intelligence.

These engaging individuals get themselves caught up in all kinds of trouble. The plot involves South Asian geopolitics, Pakistani snipers, girl trafficking, drugs and bogus work-permits, as well as capturing tourism life in Thamel and Basantapur, the Tibetan world of Boudhnath and the complex reality of modern business relationships in South Asia. It is all good fun despite the shady subject matter, and there is seldom a dull moment.

What works particularly well for me are the flashback tales from Nepal’s mythological history, narrated by the holy man to give context to the chaos of today’s predicaments for our confused 21st century protagonists.Gerry Virtue has not lost his taste for adventure in Nepal. This is an engrossing story and a spellbinding read.

Can’t wait for the sequel to find out what happens next.    Lila Choden

Nepal News

Wed, 13 Feb 2013

Kathmandu, the Novel- Book One, a book about “Dreamers, Schemers, Heroes and Holy Men” by writer Gerry Virtue, was launched amid a ceremony at the Yala Maya Kendra, Patan Dhoka on Tuesday.

The novel is the first of two linked novels of adventure and intrigue set in Kathmandu and Nepal following the turmoil of recent times and the increasing uncertainty of the future, the author said speaking during the book launch ceremony.

Virtue’s novel starts when aid worker Andrew, newly arrived in Kathmandu, receives a seemingly innocuous letter by mistake and thereon finds himself caught in the web of a covert ortganisation controlled by Merrick, a menacing and dangerous Englishman. He finds his life threatened. A nine-year-old kitchen boy, Ashok, from the hotel where Andrew is staying enters the scene. He takes Andrew and Kate, the protagonist’s girlfriend, for help to the boy’s teacher, Sadananda, an old sadhu who holds court in Kathmandu’s most famous old meeting house.

Sadananda becomes a ‘wise helper’ to the tense and agitated Andrew. The old sadhu eases their fears, and calms them with tales of the ancient Himalayas. He relates these tales, along with sage advice, at significant moments in the novel, and they give Andrew and Kate useful insights into their predicament and suggest possible solutions.

While Merrick’s secretive group devises a covert operation that will tear the subcontinent apart, the hunt for Andrew and Kate intensifies. Then young Ashok goes missing and the fugitives are drawn further into a frightening world of conspiracy, deception and death.

The writer said that the book’s sequel will be out in mid-2013 and will feature an explosive climax in which Andrew comes face to face with Merrick.

Published by Inspiring Publications Ltd, the novel is available at leading book stores in Kathmandu.