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Bangkok Haunts

Review

Bangkok Haunts

Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep, a member of the Royal Thai
Police force, is perhaps the only Bangkok cop not on the take in
one of the most corrupt police departments in Southeast Asia. The
Buddhist monk son of an infamous Thai madam and a Vietnam-era
American soldier is detective fiction’s most complex cop, as
enigmatic and exotic as his nearly unpronounceable name. We john
met the multicultural Sonchai in BANGKOK 8 and BANGKOK TATTOO,
John Burdett’s two bestselling novels that so vibrantly bring
to life one of the world’s oldest and most fascinating
cultures.  


In this third installment, Sonchai has settled down in domestic
happiness with his pregnant girlfriend in his modest Bangkok
apartment. He finds on his doorstep a hand-addressed package. In it
is a snuff porn film starring Damrong, a well-known prostitute who
once worked in his mother’s Cowboy District brothel, with
whom he had carried on a brief dalliance. When he checks on her
whereabouts, he discovers she is missing and comes to the
realization that the killing was not an act --- the murder
portrayed in the film was genuine and performed live in front of
the cameras.


Damrong’s ghost begins to haunt Sonchai’s dreams as he
launches an investigation into the identity of the film’s
producers. Over the objections of his superior, General Vikorn, he
calls on his FBI colleague, American Kimberley Jones, for help
after he learns that she is in Thailand following a lead on the
growing number of snuff films being produced in the increasingly
lucrative Southeast Asian sex trade. Together they hunt down the
highly placed officials and businessmen at the top of a
billion-dollar porn industry. 


Sonchai’s relationship with General Vikorn, who is the
epitome of elegant corruption with a penchant for exquisite art
collections and high living, is a study in Sonchai’s ability
to adapt his stringent Buddhist faith and its karmic effects to the
harsh realities of crime fighting. 


BANGKOK HAUNTS is the darkest of the three novels, which all
provide a fascinating portrayal of modern life in Thailand. The
clash between East and West is nowhere more deftly portrayed than
by Burdett, whose longtime residency in this multicultural society
provides him with the background for vivid authenticity in his
literate portrayal of its people. The reader is treated to a
splendid, intricately plotted thriller replete with the sounds,
smells, cuisine and fascinating examination of Buddhism that is at
the core of everyday Thai life.  


Newly arrived among the venerable handful of literary detective
mystery writers, such as James Lee Burke, P.D. James and
Elizabeth George, John Burdett continues to satisfy with
a series character who grows with each page-turning novel.


   











Reviewed by Roz Shea on December 22, 2010

Bangkok Haunts
by John Burdett

  • Publication Date: June 10, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books
  • ISBN-10: 1400097061
  • ISBN-13: 9781400097067