Book Quote:

“Ours is an age of enforced psychosis. I’ll forgive yours, farang, if you’ll forgive mine—but let’s talk about it later. Right now I’m on the back of a motorbike taxi hurtling toward a to-die-for little murder off Soi 4/4, Sukhumvit. My boss, Colonel Vikorn, called me at home with the good news that he wants me on the case because the victim is said to be some hyper-rich, hyper-famous Hollywood farang and he doesn’t need poor Detective Sukum screwing up with the media. We’ll get to Detective Sukum; for the moment picture me, if you will, a Eurasian Bangkok cop on my way to one of our most popular red-light districts with a Force 8 tropical wind in my face causing eyes to tear and ears to itch, where there awaits an overweight dead Westerner.”

Book Review:

Review by Lynn Harnett (JAN 22, 2010)

Sonchai Jitpleecheep, pot-smoking Bangkok cop, devout Buddhist and occasional crime abettor, begins his fourth adventure in one of the city’s most popular red light districts, where a wealthy American filmmaker has been murdered in the style of the Hannibal Lecter books on his shelf.

Son of a Thai prostitute (now a Madam) and an American father he has never met, Sonchai, with his English skills and Western sensibilities, is considered most apt for the job. And indeed he is, immediately making the connection between the victim’s books and the hidden cannibalistic aspects of his death.

Sonchai takes no pleasure in this triumph over his ambitious colleague, Detective Sukum, however. He has recently lost his 6-year-old son in a traffic accident and his grief-stricken wife, Chanya, has become a Buddhist nun. “The grim mechanical rituals of the world grind on, monochrome now, and entirely without interest to me; although Lek keeps assuring me I’m going to snap out of it sooner or later.”

For Sonchai, only frequent applications of marijuana and his new Tibetan guru, Tietsin, make life bearable. The Tibetan is not just an immensely powerful, mind-reading lama exiled to Nepal for his revolutionary zeal – he’s also a major heroin trafficker. Sonchai met him at the behest of his boss, Colonel Vikorn, who is trying to gain total control of Bangkok’s illegal trade – currently shared with his archrival, General Zinna. Tietsin claims he is putting the proceeds of his heroin deals into the Free Tibet fight against China.

Fans will be familiar with the characters (except the dead man and the lama), and with the teeming narrow sois of the city, full of vendors, thieves, entrepreneurs and, of course, girls, girls, girls.

British ex-pat Burdett keeps up the madcap pace and the dark wit as Sonchai cleverly negotiates his way around the various levels of Thai society. From fancy tourist hotels and high-society mansions to strip bars and drug dens and the Himalayan heights of Nepal, Sonchai follows the farang movie producer’s path, unraveling the demons and complexities of his psyche as he tracks a murderer.

Events scarcely give Sonchai time to meditate as he must also shoulder the burden of his lucrative new duties as Vikorn’s “consigliere” (straight out of The Godfather DVDs Sonchai procured for him), mediating the war between his boss and Zinna. Then there are the farang mules he’d like to keep out of jail, the mind-blowing new relationship with a tantric yogin in Nepal, and the ever-receding path to enlightenment.

Although the narrative has more motion than suspense, Sonchai’s winning Eastern/Western persona and the colorful setting keep the reader absorbed.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-3-5from 42 readers
PUBLISHER: Knopf; 1 edition (January 12, 2010)
REVIEWER: Lynn Harnett
EXTRAS: Reading Guide and Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Read our review of:

Bangkok 8


Sonchai Jitplecheep novels:

January 22, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Noir, Sleuths Series, Thailand-Bangkok

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