Tag Archives: thailand

Bangkok 8 by John Burdett

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


Quote from Bangkok 8 by John Burdett

“For a moment I think about taking the FBI to a bed somewhere, but immediately I realize this is a consequence of the defilement from yesterday. This is exactly how karma is generated, through craving arising from craving arising from craving. Just because I successfully negotiated the charms of three beautiful women, with the help of JBO and an astronomical investment by my Colonel, I now feel I can fuck the FBI with impunity. But the Lord Buddha taught two thousand five hundred years ago that there is no impunity. In more elegant language than I can muster he warned that you always pay for pussy, one way or another. For example, if we go back to Jones’ room at the Hilton, one of two things could happen. She could enjoy it more than I or I could enjoy it more than she. The keener one immediately becomes the slave of the other, with disastrous consequences for both. I think it likely that I would initially fall under her spell, which gets more powerful every day. Having trapped me, she would use her abrasive genius to nibble away at everything about me which is alien to her: my belief in rebirth, my spiritual dimension, my meditation, my Buddhism, my preference for huge doses of chili in everything I eat. She would not realize that she would be turning me into an American, but by the time I’m living with her in some luxurious by soulless suburb in one of those cities in America which looks like all the others, with an American accent now and forced to go underground with my chili habit, she will have started to hate me because I will have become a millstone round her neck and the lust will have run out a long time ago. There might even be a child, which of course will make things a whole lot worse, because our mutual karma will include this third person. After death, no matter how hard we try, we will be reborn in circumstances where we will be forced to continue where we left off. We will be sworn enemies by this time, and I will probably be the dominant one now, due to the way things have to balance out in the universe. No, I am not going to fuck her today.”

-Sonchai Jiteecheap

From Bangkok 8  by John Burdett


Quote from Bangkok 8 by John Burdett

“Actually, the West is a Culture of Emergency: twisters in Texas, earthquakes in California, windchill in Chicago, drought, flood, famine, epidemics, drugs, wars on everything–watch out for that meteor and how much longer does the sun really have? Of course, if you didn’t believe you could control everything, there wouldn’t be an emergency, would there?”

-From Bangkok 8 by John Burdett