John Burdett's extraordinary head-spinning new novel featuring Sonchai Jitpleecheep, Thai Buddhist detective extraordinaire
Bangkok, rich in history and spirituality, crowded with temples, markets and canals, is also a city shrouded in shadows. Polluted, corrupt, infamous as the sex capital of the world, it is a place where wealth, poverty and unimaginable evil walk hand in hand.
In District 8, the underbelly of Bangkok's crime world, a dramatically mutilated body is found in a hotel bedroom. It looks bad: the corpse - who's been flayed - is CIA. And it gets worse when the self-confessed murderer is the beautiful Chanya - the best 'working girl' at The Old Man's Club, a brothel owned jointly by Sonchai's mother and his boss, Police Colonel Vikorn. Alerted by Sonchai, Vikorn quickly concocts a cover-up that involves an Al-Qaeda terrorist cell located in a southern Thai border-town where, since 9/11, the CIA has also had a covert presence.
So far so good: but the truth will be harder to come by, and it will require Sonchai to find an ever more delicate balance between his ambition (western) and his Buddhism (eastern), while he runs the gamut of Bangkok's drug-dealers, prostitutes, bad cops, even worse military generals, and the pitfalls of his own melting heart.
Crowded with astonishing characters, redolent with the authentic, hallucinogenic atmosphere of Bangkok, with needle-sharp observations about the clash of cultures when East meets West, this is a literary thriller like no other.
“John Burdett's Bangkok 8 was a magnificent début novel that breathed new life in to the thriller, thanks to the stunningly evoked milieu of Bangkok and to his Thai Buddhist detective - a true original - Sonchai Jitpleecheep. The sequel, Bangkok Tattoo is even better”
“This is a gripping East meets West thriller, not to be missed”
“Malay-influenced Muslim separatists and the internecine feud between the corrupt police chief and a drug-dealing general combine with oriental pragmatism, karma consciousness and the sex trade to make a cracking exotic read”
“Burdett's attention to character and his studiously elegant prose style elevate this admittedly lurid work well above the usual raunchy thriller. Pensive, articulate Sonchai has a strong philosophical bent that makes him an excellent guide to the seamy Southeast Asian underworld”
“Like no other novel that's come my way lately. Ironic, sexy and trailing an odour that reminds me of a Bangkok Street after hours ... Expect to be enlightened”
“Open Bangkok Tattoo and you will read on and on, with wide-eyed fascination, some horror or disgust, and considerable delight”