Murder in the Mountains

Secrets on the Family Farm

The Garden of Kathmandu trilogy:

The Pomelo Tree
The Harvest
The Shamans

What others say about Nick's novels



Here are a few reviews and readers comment about Nick's novels

The Long Road to Mount Kailash

Here is advance praise from Jim Fisher for Nick's latest novel soon to be published, The Long Road to Mount Kailash:

"Just when I had decided that Nick Cibrario must have finally reached the bottom of the barrel of material he has been drawing on for his four lengthy and electrifying novels about Nepal, during which almost every sort of imaginable adventure has faced his characters, he comes up with yet another.  The characters fortunately survived the dangerous circumstances in which they found themselves in previous novels, so they're all ready to come to us in this one, about the long, arduous trek to Mt. Kailash in western Tibet, viewed as sacred by Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Bonpo (the pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet).

"With such a variety of characters - Carl, the anthropologist, his wife Barbara, a tour guide at the Museum of Natural History in Chicago, their daughter, Kathy, a doctor, his Nepali friends, Rama and Samitra, and others too numerous to mention, tales of intrigue, adventure, romance, even death (of the Royal Family in 2001) are never far away.  The trip to Tibet, and then the long, nine day, high-altitude trek around Mt. Kailash, occupy the reader till their return to Kathmandu, chastened and, one hopes, wiser than when they began their adventure."

A new review by former Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal, Don Messerschmidt of all of Nick's Nepal novels, The Pomelo Tree, The Harvest, The Shamans, and Murder in the Mountains appears here

Murder in the Mountains

One thing you can say about Nick Cibrario's novels is that they cut a huge swath through the territory they cover. You'd think from the titles that they would concern Nepal and only Nepal. That was not true of his first three novels, nor is it true of his most recent one, Murder in the Mountains.

Of course there's no mistaking the powerful Nepal theme running through all these books. But in this novel, as in the others, it is the cross-cultural connections between foreigners, who are Americans (mostly), and Nepalese of a wide variety of ethnic and religious and political stripes that give the novel its special cultural punch. One might be captivated by the exotic twists and turns of the plot, but in addition to being entertaining fiction, they also inform the reader about real people (some of them, anyway) in a real place.

Nick's latest book does not start from scratch. You might well think of it as the fourth in a series of novels about Nepal. It brings the reader up to date on the characters who played important roles in his first three novels called, collectively, the Kathmandu Trilogy. Thus Murder in the Mountains transforms the previous series into what now stands as a tetralogy.

The novel takes place in 2001 when the inveterate and perennial Chicago anthropologist, Carl Brecht, heads back to his research bailiwick, Nepal, with his daughter, who has just graduated from high school. In a clever joining of two worlds, Cibrario has Carl attending a conference on Alternative Medicines and the Paramedic Training of Shamans. Left behind in Chicago are his wife, Barbara, presiding over the now empty nest, since their son, Mark, is about to leave for a summer job in Colorado.

Nepal is not only a land with alternative medical theories and practices, but also alternative politics specifically, a Maoist insurgency which, at the time of the novel, had been raging for more than ten years against King Birendra, the last of the Shah dynasty kings who ruled Nepal since 1769. Birendra's son, Crown Prince Dipendra, a heavy drinking and drug-using rogue, was carrying on a clandestine affair with the beautiful Devyani, of whom his parents did not approve, giving rise to much tension between Dipendra and particularly his mother, Queen Aishwarya. The in-law issues involved with Barbara's father, who appears from time to time in an almost comic role, pale by comparison.

In Kathmandu Carl finds another soul from his past visits to Nepal, namely the British woman Margaret Porter, whose son was murdered in an earlier novel. This time Margaret has hired shamans to liberate her son's soul. Meanwhile, Margaret's second son, Nigel, originally kidnapped as a child by a London coven, is now a Buddhist monk connected to the royal family through Crown Prince Dipendra.

All this leads to accusations that Nigel has conspired with the Maoists to assassinate the Royal family (an event which really did happen, although with a slightly altered cast of real historical characters). There are many theories still swirling around Kathmandu about who actually assassinated the royal family. The novel resolves this question with an accusation against Nigel and the Maoists, but the truth is finally revealed in the mountains near the monastery in the Medicine Cave after the main characters are taken hostage. But there is no royal monopoly on murders, as the abbot at Bodhnath monastery (in Kathmandu) and monks at Tengboche monastery (near Mt. Everest) meet similarly unfortunate ends.

All this is heady stuff, and there's something for everyone: cross-cultural medicine, conspiracy theories about the royal assassination, astrologers, Maoist rebels, shamans, even domestic tensions as they develop and dissolve within an American family in Nepal strangers in a strange land, indeed.

As for how it all concludes? That is for readers, whose curiosity by the end has been raised to unbearable levels, to discover. But with the shrewd and skilful story-teller Cibrario at the helm, they will not be disappointed.

Professor Jim Fisher, Anthropologist - Carleton College

Secrets on the Family Farm

The setting for Secrets on the Family Farm could not be more different from that of his trilogy - nothing exotic (at least in the conventional, geographical sense) down on the Wisconsin farm. This time the characters are all people we can readily identify with (well . maybe not after we get to know them), because they are all right out of middle America . Not only are they inhabitants of the heartland, but they represent the rural backbone of the nation - or so we think before Cibrario lets us in on its dirty little secrets.

For those of us not old enough to have lived through this era, this essentially historical novel will serve as an excellent introduction to those bygone days of the early 1950's.

Professor Jim Fisher, Anthropologist - Carleton College

Read Jim Fisher's full review here.

... The novel is well paced, and the setting is vividly rendered. ... I recommend this novel.

W. Tucker Clark, Peace Corps Worldwide

Read full review here.

The Pomelo Tree

"Mr. Cibrario poetically unmasks the violence (hinsa) within his memorable characters. The riveting story takes place in Kathmandu during the chilling animal sacrifices at the temple to honor the goddess, Durga."

Gopal Adhikary, Civil Engineer from Nepal

"In his insightful novel Mr. Cibrario reveals the psychological tension inherent in the Nepalese culture. Demons and gods, male and female, the supernatural and scientific struggle to possess the souls of his characters."

Samira Adhikary, Computer Scientist from Nepal

"An anthropologist's quest for meaning leads him to Nepal to do research on shamanism in this existential novel. During a Hindu festival Carl Brecht unravels the machinations of a London coven. Thus, Cibrario establishes a supernatural foundation for his intriguing trilogy."

Professor Andrew McLean, University of Wisconsin-Parkside

"East meets West in Mr. Cibrario's compelling novel. A demonic force manifests itself in the lives of his unforgetable Nepalese, British, and American characters. The evil escalates during the ten day Hindu Festival, Dasain, reaching a climax under the pomelo tree in the Garden of Kathmandu."

Kesar Lall, Nepalese Author - Lore and Legend of Nepal, Nepal Off The Beaten Path

"In Nick Cibrario's dynamic novel, an anthropologist befriends a British woman and her unruly children. When he discovers they are fleeing from a coven, Carl Brecht's research on shamanism is delayed. The suspense increases during the frenzied animal sacrifices in Kathmandu.

"Cibrario has evolved a clever way to both tell a good story and let the reader in on some of the considerable knowledge and understanding of Nepal he has come to possess over the years ... He has an uncommon skill at spinning yarns and giving the reader a sense of place."

Professor Jim Fisher, Anthropologist - Carleton College

Readers' Comments about The Pomelo Tree

The following are a few of the enthusiastic responses received from readers of The Pomelo Tree.

Nick,

... I have one complaint.

Todd is not a book reader but after reading your book, which he has finished already he is bugging me for your second book.

You truly had him captivated with your writings and is anxiously awaiting the rest of the story.

He states that the first book was well written and has left him hanging.

Your friends,
Todd and Tammy Pouliot

Dear Sirs,

I understand the novel, The Pomelo Tree, is the beginning of a trilogy. I'm anxious to continue on the adventure, found this novel fascinating.

I would like to know the release date for Nick Cibrario's next novel.

I'll be looking forward to hearing from you.

Regards,

Jody Jacob

Hi Nick,

I bought your book and read it over Spring break. Interestingly enough, I began reading it on the plane to Puerto Vallarta while a child was making lots of noise! Here I was, trying to escape children and have a relaxing vacation -- then your book introduced Nigel! My plane trip was much less hectic than the one with Nigel! I enjoyed the book very much, but was dismayed when I realized it was part of a triology. That means I'll have to wait until the others are published to find out the ending! Any hints?

Sincerely,
Marse Jamora

Nick,

I have just finished reading "The Pomelo Tree". You certainly have strung together a good tale. I enjoyed it immensely! Unfortunately, of course one is left hanging a bit at the very end! I can't wait for the next installment.

Doug Bingham

Hello Nick,

Just had to let you know how much I enjoyed your book -- so much I stayed up till three in the morning reading it, I could not put it down. I did not know the book would be continued, so you can imagine my surprise when I got to the end, and found out it didn't end. The story made you feel you were right there with the characters ... can't wait for the next book. hope it is soon!

Sharon (Pulera) Shilts

Dear Mr. Cibraro,

Recently I finished reading your provocative book, THE POMELO TREE. Nigel is one of the most disturbing, but credible, little boys I've ever met. When I got to the ending and got no closure on Nigel's life, I ran to your wife at school to find out about Nigel. Well, she is not talking! She grinned almost devilishly and said, "I know what happens, but you'll have to wait until the next book comes out."

Is there some way that you can get your publisher to rush the printing of your next book? I am most curious to learn what happens next to a young miscreant in a cultural setting that is totally unfamiliar to me.

I am tremendously grateful to have found a novel like THE POMELO TREE which opens my eyes, not only to Nepal, but also to the dark side of people bent on evil.

BTW, I also can hardly wait to see what the cover of the next book will be. The "Pomelo" cover compels the browser to want to discover what lies behind the mysterious juxtaposition of human, animal, and architectural pieces.

Waiting,

Gert Stoffregen

hi nick uncle,

it was very nice talking to you after so many days, i received your book yesterday, and have start reading, i already liked it. i will let you know how i feel about your book when i am done.

thankyou very much for sending that book.

chandan

Just wanted to tell you I finishedSaturday, 2 May, 2009!  You really did a great job developing the characters, especially the kids.  I'm not sure what or how I feel about Nigel, but I do know I can't wait to get into the next book!  I feel like I'm traveling in Nepal with them all, and experiencing all the sights (and smells) of the country.  I guess I'll just have to live vicariously through your books.  I can sure see a lot of you in the book.  Not only Nepal, but the Jesuits, Milford, etc.  Much of yourself and your thoughts and feelings came through.  Can't wait to see what's in store in books 2 & 3. ...

Jane

The Harvest

"Cibrario's second book is fabulous. He transports you to the jungle in Nepal and takes you on an incredible and suspenseful journey in search of the missing child. His quest leads you into India, where the coven is involved with compulsory sterilization during the State of Emergency. The extraordinary intrigue builds from The Pomelo Tree to an absolutely riveting climax. Wow, I couldn't put it down!"

Mary Waid, Lecturer, Universtiy of Wisconsin-Parkside

"The Harvest set in Nepal and India, is not for the faint hearted. Nick Cibrario weaves threads of withcraft, Hindu theology, and political history into a fascinating and gripping tale. His knowledge of the culture has enabled him to create an authentic narrative, which is both exciting and educational."

Douglas Bingham, Geophysicist, Edmonton, Alberta

"The encroaching future events built into The Pomelo Tree continues in The Harvest. Nick Cibrario has woven the history of the area with the mystique of the area's culture so creatively that the reader is caught in his web. I feel like I'm seeing, and experiencing, the events as they progress. Well written! I can't wait for his next contribution to this amazing story!"

C. Hemm, as reviewed on www.Amazon.com

The Shamans

"In the latest novel of Cibrario's riveting trilogy, Carl Brecht, the anthropologist-as-hero, ventures into the mountains of Nepal, where he witnesses numerous dynamic exorcisms performed by local shamans. Upon returning to Pokhara he encounters the coven again, this time engaged in sinister rituals with Nigel, the kidnapped child."

Jim Fisher, Anthropologist, Carleton College

Read Jim Fisher's full review as published in the Racine, Wisconsin Journal Times

"In this intriguing and culturally enlightening novel, Nick Cibrario creates suspense from the beginning to the end as the shamans perform exorcism to rid the victims of demons. The spectacular ending involves the coven, performing secret rituals at Fewa Lake in Pokhara, Nepal."

Bill DeMark, Juris Doctor

Readers comments about The Shamans and the Garden of Kathmandu Trilogy

Hi, Nick,

I just completed the trilogy.  I couldn't put the books down.  I was mesmerized and completely enveloped by the characters and their lives that I often had to literally tell myself that they were characters, not people who were personally in my life! They were so well developed that I felt I could actually be part of the storyline, and put in my 2 cents!  I really didn't want any of the books to end, especially the 3rd. 

Would you consider a sequel to let us know what happens to Nigel, Margaret, Carl and the others?  Put in my order now! ...

Jane

Nick,

I recently finished reading The Shamans.  I found this to be my favorite of the trilogy. I particularly enjoyed the episode which took place during the trek when Carl offered aspirin to the elderly man.  I was also facinated by the exorcism of the wife of the university professor in effigy. While some parts were especially gruesome, I found it hard to put down.  I found the all the plot resolutions in the story very satisfying.  The story which permeates the trilogy and descriptions of Nepal were very compelling reading. My only criticism of the triology as a whole is Carl Brecht's the somewhat preachy and repetitious dialogue at times.  I look forward to your future novels.

Susan M. Bachman

Review of the Garden of Kathmandu Trilogy

Nepal is new muse for fiction writers

by Sudeshna Sarkar (Indian-Asian News Service, 13 April 2007)

... The most prolific 'Kathmandu' writer is probably Dominic J. Cibrario ...

... The trilogy is uncanny in a way not intended by the author. The Pomelo Tree, written in 1977 and published in 2000, has an eerie prediction.

'There is an attempted assassination at the royal palace, but the plot is unsuccessful,' Cibrario says. 'A yogi during Dasain (Nepal's biggest festival, akin to India's Dussehra) predicts that that the crown prince, who is just a little boy, will assassinate the king and queen. This occurs while the royal family is making a public appearance at the Kumari temple.'

A year after the book was published, the imaginary prediction comes true with Crown Prince Dipendra apparently killing his parents and seven other relatives during a dinner in the palace.

In the last book of the trilogy, The Shamans, the young daughter of a shaman predicts the death of nearly all members of the royal family, another imagining that also comes true.

The second book, The Harvest, published in 2005, the year King Gyanendra staged his coup, again uncannily describes a violent protest of students involving the destruction of shops, restaurants and hotels near the royal palace.

That too comes true in April 2006 when the Maoists ally with the seven-party opposition to lead 19 days of continuous street protests against the royal regime, finally forcing the king to step down.

Read another article by Sudeshna Sarker from the Times of India here.



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