Backpack by Emily Barr
After being transported to early 19th Century Russia with War and Peace, and having developed Popeye style biceps from reading said book, I was in the mood for something a little lighter. Both literally and metaphorically. There is a hint that travel may be starting to open up again, with 10 countries, including Portugal and Iceland, being placed on a green list. With a holiday booked for Barbados and keeping everything crossed, I plumped therefore for a beach read. It is an old beach read, but perfect for fans of 'The Beach' or Karen Swan. I'm delighted to share this with you.
Following her alcoholic Mother's death, Tansy Harris wakes up in hospital after overdosing on drink and drugs. Determined to get her life on track, she decides to go travelling with her on-off boyfriend Tom. When Tom pulls out of the trip with only days to go, Tansy goes anyway and finds herself in Vietnam, horrified at the backpacker culture. But meeting gentle Max, she starts to enjoy travelling and embrace her life again.
Trouble looms for the backpacking community though, as a killer is murdering female backpackers. Women who all bear a strong resemblance to Tansy. Each of the victims is holding an item that Tansy owns. Is Tansy losing her mind? Or is someone genuinely out to get Tansy?
Since starting the blog and despite being a reader for most of my life (bar the part when I was a baby obviously and couldn't even hold up my own neck, let alone a book), I am still discovering my ever-changing reading preferences. On re-reading Backpack, I discovered that whilst I do love a romantic story, I don't want it to be plain sailing all the way. In fact, I relish a story with a bit of an edge. Emily Barr certainly delivers!
Glamorous locations, believable characters, a kind romantic interest all mixed in with drink, drugs and murders. Sign me Up! Tansy is incredibly flawed, having had a brutal childhood being the main carer for an alcoholic parent, and is almost narcissistic in her paranoia. She makes bad choices, almost to the point where you want to shake her and say 'what are you doing?!'. But it's believable because she is such a freaking mess. But on another level, you can't help but like her! As she lurches from one disaster to another, Max proves to be her constant and he is great.
Emily Barr provides a fascinating insight into the world of the backpacker and the effects on the countries they visit and she has really done her research here. It was therefore no surprise to discover that she was a travel journalist.
The crime aspect is well done and without giving too much away, I did not see that coming! I will leave it there.
So, if like me you are hopefully jetting off to warmer climes and on the lookout for a fast paced thriller mixed with a beach read, then I would recommend this. It was great to read it again.