You looking for exotic locale in your fiction? You looking for lurid glitz, ancient culture and trashy culture intermingling, a 24-7 green light for red light attractions and serious heat in the cuisine and atmosphere? Me too. With today's release of The Fear Artist by Timothy Hallinan (number five in his engaging Bangkok-set Poke Rafferty series - hey, what are the chances Hilary Davidson's fellow travel-writing Lily Moore will ever cross his path on the streets of Bangkok? Hmmm) I feel ready to Thai one on.
So, anybody else feeling adventurous? Here's a few Bangkok titles to get you movin.
Vulture Peak - the latest by John Burdett. Know you not the Sonchai Jitpleecheep books that kicked off this wildly popular series with Bangkok 8? Know these. Jitpleecheep is a uniquely Bangkok specimen. The son of a prostitute and raised in brothels and among the women working there as well as a string of wealthy foreign men who took up with his mother for extended periods, Sonchai had quite an education. After a wild youth that he's still paying off spiritually, he became a policeman and a devout Buddhist - an often difficult balancing act when surrounded by the levels of graft and vice sustained by his co-workers (nevermind the public they police). Virtue, corruption, sex, spirituality, crime and charity get a fresh working over every time out in this series.
Paying Back Jack by Christopher G. Moore is book number ten in his Vincent Calvino PI series, and finds the dis-barred American lawyer up to his ex-pat eyeballs in surveillance, sex and snipers - I'll title your book for a small fee - while managing to keep the the history and mystery as blistering as the city itself.
Moore with a G. (who is not to be confused with humane humorist and supernatural satirist Christopher Moore the author of titles like Fluke and Sacré Bleu) also edited Bangkok Noir which features a bunch of the authors included elsewhere in this piece, but it also holds the distinction of featuring some offerings from non-Western writers writing about their home - like for instance, Tew Bunnag (Naga's Journey), or former head of royal court security police Vasit Dejkunjorn - and that can't help, but add some much needed ground-up insight into the intriguing culture and locale.
For those looking to stock their NOOK with spicy Thai-tles, check out Private Dancer by Stephen Leather, The Big Mango by Jake Needham or Skytrain to Murder by Dean Barret. (Also, if you're looking for a film rec and you get a chance to check it out, I suggest giving the propulsive action of Bangkok Dangerous directed by Oxide Pang Chun and Danny Pang NOT to be confused with the US remake with Nicolas Cage - though, as always, I love the enthusiasm, Nic - a go. If you don't mind hopping borders you should really have a look see at Matt Dillon's excellent and excellently odd City of Ghosts - co-written by Barry Gifford if you need more convincing. Cambodia, not Thailand, but I don't care - more people should love this movie!)
And if you'd like to get out of the industrial city stink and enjoy a more pastoral and less hardboiled take on y'know murder, gender re-assignment and such, check out Colin Cotterill's Jimm Juree books Killed at the Whim of a Hat and Grandad, There's a Head on the Beach. If you want to hang out with Cotterill in Southeast Asia you're in luck cause this chap also writes a Laotian series featuring his Siri Paiboun character. So there.
Meanwhile, I suppose bloggers in Bangkok are writing about mysteries set in the exotic mid-western plains that I sometimes take for granted.
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