I know, I know… I’ve been posting a lot of quotes lately from this book, I can’t help it. Every time I see something poignant I just have to dog ear the page to share with you guys… Anyway, on to the juicy bits.
Bangkok 8 by John Burdett tells the story of Thai Detective Sonchai Jiteecheap. He’s lead investigator solving the double murder case of an American marine and his “soul brother”/partner Pichai. Death by python strangulation and getting bitten directly in the eye by a baby cobra, respectively. Ew. It’s now his quest for retribution that drives him to follow the suspects deeper and deeper into the sleaze-fest underground world that is Thailand’s drug, sex, and jade trade industry. Don’t worry, there will be enough yaa baa to go around. Oh yeah, and hookers, trannies, hit men, and corrupt cops–oh my!
Without getting into too much plot detail, I really did enjoy Burdett’s interpretation of Thailand. It made me realize what an interesting (yet dangerous) country it really is, and I liked the comparison between Eastern and Western mentality. That was really illustrated in Sonchai’s quote I posted yesterday. He had a long internal dialogue as to whether or not he would sleep with the attractive FBI agent with whom he worked. I laughed because as a Buddhist Thai, he seemed more concerned about the karmic retribution rather than the personal disaster that their relationship could potentially become.
“Be nice to incompetents and they’ll be nice back. Be nasty and they’ll still be incompetent, so what do you gain by making an enemy?”
I really liked the Thai landscape being illustrated in my mind. Burdett did a good job making the city seem real, as well as presenting the gritty prostitution (that is a reality for most girls between the ages of 15-30) in one easy dose. I will say that I wish he had included more dialogue, because the long pages of text became a bit monotonous after a while–making the story seem slow at some points. At the same time, although I realize that the story was written from a first person point of view, I wish there had been more action and less time spent in Sonchai’s head. He was a very strange character, and I didn’t ever really feel very attached to him or his mission. There were also quite a few strange tangents the story went off on, but I guess that’s just the natural course of field investigation.
All in all, I would recommend the read– but at the risk of sounding biased, I would say that a man would enjoy this novel more so than a woman…
3 of 5 stars