Monday, January 11, 2010

Currently reading: BANGKOK EI8HT by John Burdett

While travelling from Cairo back to Auckland, New Zealand over the weekend, I trawled the bookshops in Kuala Lumpur's international airport during my four-hour stopover. As would be expected, plenty of crime and thriller titles were on offer.

As I'd read a German crime novel (in translation) in Germany (Bernard Schlink's SELF'S MURDER), and read one (see blog post re: PC Doherty's THE ANUBIS SLAYINGS) and started another Ancient Egypt-set crime novel while in Egypt - I thought I'd scour the shelves for some Malaysian-set crime. Unfortunately I was unable to find any - Asia-based author Shamini Flint does set her debut there, but they only had her second book, set in Bali, Indonesia. I also have access to a copy of her debut, INSPECTOR SINGH INVESTIGATES: A MOST PECULIAR MALAYSIAN MURDER, back here in New Zealand anyway.

While in the KL International airport, I did come across some other Asian-set crime (in English) - particularly John Burdett's Bangkok series starring Buddhist half-caste Thai cop Sonchai Jitpleecheep. As I'd also passed through Bangkok airport on my travels, this seemed a good addition to my vacation-themed crime fiction purchases; so I bought the first in the series, BANGKOK EI8HT.

When a U.S. Marine is killed in Bangkok, the task of finding the murderer falls to Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep, seemingly the only member of the Royal Thai Police Force not on the take. This assignment's especially important to the devout detective for during the investigation of the murder scene, the methamphetamine-stoked snakes that bit the marine also kill Sonchai's police partner, best friend, and Buddhist soul-mate Pichai. Sonchai's pursuit of revenge will team him with an FBI agent and leave them at the mercy of yaa-baa-fueled motorcycle-taxi drivers as they hurtle through neon-lit Bangkok and into the labyrinthine and deadly machinations of the international jade and drug trades in search of the killer.

I'm about 1/4 through the book at the moment, and enjoying it quite a lot thusfar.

Burdett is considered Thailand's 'top thriller writer'. English by birth, he started working in Asia for a Hong Kong-based British law firm, before switching to writing. He has spent many years living and working in Asia, and now divides his time between Thailand and France.

You can read a short CNN interview with Burdett here.

Have any of you read Burdett's Bangkok-set tales? Thoughts and comments welcome...

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I've read the first two in the series and will, no doubt, pick up the third book one of these days. The sex trade plays a significant role in his works, including some of the more kinkier aspects.

    I love his mother.

    I've read a number of Schlink's works also. He's on my "must read" list. His other novel, _The Reader_, is a very powerful work which has its roots in the Nazi era also.