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Bangkok 8 by John Burdett

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Book Title: Bangkok 8

Author: John Burdett

Publisher: Vintage Press (Random House)

 

Excellent blurb on the back cover:

Witnessed by a throng of gaping onlookers, a charismatic Marine sergeant is murdered under a Bangkok bridge inside a bolted-shut Mercedes-Benz. Among the spectators are the only two cops in the city not on the take, but within moments one is murdered and his partner, Sonchai Jitpleecheep - a devout Buddhist and the son of a Thai bar girl and a long-gone Vietnam War G.I. - is hell-bent on wreaking revenge. On a vigilante mission to capture his partner's murderer, Sonchai is begrudgingly paired with a beautiful FBI agent named Jones and captures her heart in the process. In a a city fueled by illicit drugs and infinite corruption, prostitution and priceless art, Sonchai's quest for vengeance takes him into a world much more sinister than he could ever have imagined.

 

My motivation for buying this book:

I had been reading books like Lady Chatterley's Lover, Dairy Queen, The Secret Garden and a spate of fantasy books and fluffy funny mystery novels - I wanted something with a little more grit and weight in the storyline.

 

Broader Commentary:

With a Buddhist as the main character it is no surprise this book is about balance. Weighing the mores and morals of two very different societies (East Vs West but most often America vs Thailand), our author builds a wonderful case for Bangkok being a wonderful terrific lovely place without lying - if prostitution is part of the discussion then we are taught that in the West we see sex as something encumbered with romance, while in the East it is merely an itch that needs scratching. The same comparison is made for drugs, graft, guns and murder. One walks away with an entire new view on life in another culture.

 

Specific Thoughts:

I loved our hero, Sonchai. He meditates, believes in re-incarnation, makes amazing non-logical connections and simply understands humans. It was wonderful for me to see how he could meet a gangster or corrupt official and see the beauty in that person; the beauty, honor, love and spirituality.

 

Overview and Warning:

This is a very dense book - a lot of facts and material on prostitution, a lot of information on history and politics of the area and a wide-scope point of view on the world and it's direction.

This is a book for grown-ups. It is mature, violent, smart and wickedly funny. At it's core, it is very honest and will challenge your own views of everything: religion, money, sex, food, life, death.

It is full of surprises in which the satisfaction comes not from what you, as a reader, are anticipating but rather a more humble (my vocabulary is lacking) centered result.

Recommendation:

I very much recommend this book to anyone who is an adult. I think my own acceptance of the story comes from the fact that I've traveled to other countries and been (briefly) immersed in other cultures. This is one of the few books I thought about writing a thank you note to the author while I was reading the narrative.

It is a good, smart read that is challenging and rewarding.

 

Online Reviews:

reviewsofbooks

salon.com

bookreporter.com

 

movie in 2009?

 

 

Enjoy!



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