BANGKOK EIGHT by JOHN BURDETT

There is such a delight in discovering (admittedly well after everyone else) a fabulous new detective hero, and after reading “Bangkok Eight” I am a fan, a firm, verging-on-embarrassingly-enthusiastic fan of Sonchai Jitpleecheep.

Sonchai Jitpleecheep is an unusual Bangkok cop.

For one thing he is only half Thai.

For another thing, he is not on the take, which is why he knows he will pretty much always languish at the bottom of the police food chain.

And since he can see people’s past lives, he has a unique take on the people he meets as he works the streets of Bangkok. Hmm…using the word “works” makes him sound rather like the hookers who people his world – hardly surprising, given that his delightful mother, Nong, is a former whore. His father, one of her clients we learn, he has never met, but he is part of Sonchai’s thoughts. Not obsessively so, but he does wonder about his father. And his fabulously practical mother refuses to tell him what he wants to know.

His half and half status (and his excellent lingustic skills, rare in the Bangkok Police force) give this delightful man a totally different perspective on life, on Thailand, on Bangkok, on Buddhism, on morality, on prostitution, on corruption. On any and all of the many strands, in fact, that make this clever beautifully written narrative such a good, entertaining read.

The story opens with a shocking brutal murder, and the death of Sonchai’s closest friend and partner, so within a few seconds we are plunged headlong into a world of death and horror and retribution, and the pace doesn’t let up from that point onwards.

The drawback of reviewing a crime novel is that you don’t want to spoil the plot. So I won’t.

But this much I will say : be prepared for action, humour, drugs, food, sex, and a voyage of discovery into the world of Bangkok prostitution which makes these young women some of the most likeable people you will meet.

Mr. Burdett wears his obvious scholarship and deep knowledge of Thailand lightly, while letting his equally obvious love and affection for the country and her people shine through. As you read, you learn about Thai culture and manners and thought processes, but all done in such a way that it is a natural part of the narrative.

A great read. And I can’t wait to start on the next book in the series…

Published 2003 (so, yes, agreed, it took me a while to discover Sonchai).

Recommended.

Great read.

If you now feel like reading this book, it couldn’t be easier.  Just click on any of the links below.

Happy reading.


The Sheriff of Bombay by H.R.F.Keating

After a bout of reading good but rather heavy book club books, I felt like some mental time out.

But, for no particular reason, I wanted Indian mental time out, and so it was with a feeling of great relaxation that I re-read H.R.F Keating’s “The Sheriff of Bombay.”

I have long been a fan of the delightful Inspector Ghote novels, and this book does not disappoint.

Can there be a more likeable detective than the slightly put upon, scrupulously honest, solidly middle class Ganesh Ghote ?  Inspector Ghote strides his way through the crowded noisy streets of Bombay, circa early-1980s, solving crimes in his own low-key intuitive way.

This is Bombay before it became Mumbai.  Before mobile technology.  When victorias could still be seen on the streets.

When I got to know and love the city, incidentally, which is why (I suspect) I have always had a weakness for these books.

In “The Sheriff of Bombay”, Inspector Ghote must solve a series of murders.  A prostitute from the notorious Falkland Road “cages” has been murdered, and Inspector Ghote suspects the murderer to be none other than the high-profile, popular, likeable Sheriff of Bombay.

As we follow the twists and turns in the plot, and meet an aging film star, the Svashbuckler (sic), we plunge with Inspector Ghote into the sordid underbelly of Bombay in pursuit of a serial killer.

Lovely writing, bringing to life one of the world’s most fabulous cities, before it became 21st-century-fied.

 If you wish to  buy this delightful book, nothing could be easier.  Just click on the link below :