Reviewed: “The Travel Writer: A Mystery” by Jeff Soloway

The Travel WriterTHE TRAVEL WRITER: A MYSTERY is the most succinct title possible for a novel about a travel writer who gets involved in the mystery of an American woman’s disappearance in the mountains of Bolivia.

The story tries for the “ripped from the headlines” vibe and maybe it succeeds in that it gets sort of bogged down in heresy and second opinions.

There’s also the problem that Jacob Smalls, the travel writer, really isn’t cut out to be an investigator of any sort beyond what tourist attractions one should visit. He pretends to be a know-it-all about South America and he sometimes is but he’s sometimes not, and badly. Jacob Smalls is drawn into the problem of the disappearance of his one-time, never met in person editor by his ex-girlfriend Pilar Rojas, who he lied to about the important thing of whether his parents were alive or not, just to get into bed with her.

That Pilar happens to work at the hotel where Hilary Pearson disappeared from and that Hilary just happened to be Jacob’s editor once and that Jacob is still stupidly in love with Pilar does come across as a bit too happily coincidental.

But it works, mostly.

The thing that made this story a little hard to slog to the end with is that I didn’t get attached to the characters. I know I’m supposed to dislike goofy, out of place Kenny and side with worldly, exotic Jacob and Pilar but… I like Kenny. He gets treated like crap for most of the story, and in the story background, and he’s really the only person who comes out of the whole thing with his head held high.

This is apparently book one in the “Travel Writer Mystery” series but… I don’t think I’m into it enough to come back for book two.

I received a copy of THE TRAVEL WRITER: A MYSTERY from NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group – Alibi in exchange for an honest and original review.

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