Review – The Tourist Trail: a novel by John Yunker

This dares to be different. It is an adventure story and a romance (a couple of romances, actually) wrapped up in a setting that I would risk a small bet you will not have come across before: conservation. That should probably be with a big C. And it’s an indie publication. One of the best I’ve come across.

Inter alia, two different methods of conservation are brought into focus: the rather bleak life of the naturalist who counts, tags and avoids emotional contact with Chinstrap Penguins, and the rather bleak life of the saboteurs who put their own boats between whales and other marine life and the big factory fishing ships. I’ve used ‘rather bleak’ for both cohorts, which is far from fair. And although it might make you think this will lead to a ‘rather bleak’ book, it is far from that. It is immensely thought-provoking – would you drop out of your life and run away to save whales? And the characters who inhabit this unusual novel are so well drawn and so nuanced that you feel yourself swayed first one way then the other, vis a vis the running away/whale Thing, by their emotions, lack thereof, or attempts to keep same under control.

It is all set in the coldest places of the world. Usually a turn-off for me. But the heat generated by the pace of the book, through its good plot and the complex characters inhabiting it more than made up for that.

My only caveat was within the chapter headings named for the character whose point of view we were about to experience. This is usually a good plan (one I’ve used myself), but here a cheat is introduced, in that sometimes one of the points of view is an alias. Not fair!

That apart, one can only hope this book is picked up by a mainstream publisher and given the circulation it deserves.


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