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Bangkok 8by John Burdett
Synopses & Reviews
"Though we know it as Bangkok, the Thai refer to their capital as Krung Thep, which translates as City of Angels. It's an unhappy coincidence. Just like our own City of Angels (Los Angeles), Krung Thep is a once-idyllic city that in recent decades has metastasized into an unwieldy concrete megalopolis. As a result, Bangkok is the perfect setting for that quintessential LA genre, the urban noir. In Bangkok 8, John Burdett takes full advantage." C. P. Farley, Powells.com (read the entire Powells.com review)
Electrifying, darkly comic, razor-edged—a thriller unlike any other.
Under a Bangkok bridge, inside a bolted-shut Mercedes: a murder by snake—a charismatic African American Marine sergeant killed by a methamphetamine-stoked python and a swarm of stoned cobras.
Two cops—the only two in the city not on the take—arrive too late. Minutes later, only one is alive: Sonchai Jitpleecheep—a devout Buddhist, equally versed in the sacred and the profane—son of a long-gone Vietnam War G.I. and a Thai bar girl whose subsequent international clientele contributed richly to Sonchais sophistication.
Now, his partner dead, Sonchai is doubly compelled to find the murderer, to maneuver through the world he knows all to well—illicit drugs, prostitution, infinite corruption—and into a realm he has never before encountered: the moneyed underbelly of the city, where desire rules and the human body is no less custom-designable than a raw hunk of jade. And where Sonchai tracks the killer—and a predator of an even more sinister variety.
Thick with the authentic—and hallucinogenic—atmosphere of Bangkok, crowded with astonishing characters, uniquely smart and skeptical, literary and wildly readable, Bangkok 8 is one of a kind.
"Enjoyable, mostly, with a savage payoff and a smoky, acidic aftertaste." Kirkus Reviews
"Burdett evokes an intriguing and exotic Bangkok where hungry ghosts and capitalists throng the busy intersection of the eightfold path and the red-light district....The pace never flags, every page unfolding fresh mysteries of the psychological, cultural, metaphysical, and locked-room varieties." Library Journal
"A thriller as exotic as it is enthralling, and as provocative as it is obscene....This is a novel for anyone who admires the Zen Buddhist Amsterdam mysteries of Janwillem van de Wetering, the Yellowthread Street Hong Kong mysteries of William Marshall, and Michael Dibkin's Aurelio Zen." Harpers
"Burdett's few missteps — including a key revelation handled too matter-of-factly and a woefully farcical coda — can't trip up an otherwise surefooted and satisfying tale." Frank Sennett, Booklist
"Mr. Burdett...seems to have read a lot of detective stories...and watched a lot of movies, and he has folded all this knowledge into a stew pot of a thriller with uncommon energy and an alarming lack of discrimination....But as the case grows increasingly Byzantine, Mr. Burdett's plotting goes into manic hyperdrive, and his narrative and character development become increasingly slapdash." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"The novel's plot is twisty, and there's sex and violence along the way. But personally, I'd read a book that followed Sonchai around Bangkok on a day he spent writing up parking tickets. His take on the Thai way of looking at the world is that beguiling and illuminating, his affection for the funky, overwrought yet strangely laid-back city he roams is that contagious....[T]here's a pretty good detective story in there, too, but it could have withered away and I'd barely have missed it amid the stories of soccer-mad call girls who want to watch the game while servicing their clients, pit stops at the book-stuffed apartment of a drunken Russian panderer, and disquisitions on the Chiu Chow Chinese....I have no idea how accurate Burdett's depiction of the Thai outlook may be (he's a British ex-lawyer who lives in Hong Kong), but Bangkok 8 nonetheless feels like a deliciously fresh breath of air in the often musty halls of detective fiction, as well as a more-than-fond tribute to a people whose charm is already legendary." Laura Miller, Salon.com
"Bangkok 8 is one of the most startling and provocative mysteries that I've read in years. The characters are marvelously unique, the setting is intoxicating and the plot unwinds in dark illusory strands, reminiscent of Gorky Park. Once I started, I didn't want to put it down." Carl Hiaasen, author of Basket Case
?The wildest ride in modern crime novel exoticum. A novel so steeped in milieu that it feels as if you?ve blasted to Mars in the grip of a demon who won?t let you go. Read this book, savor the language — it?s the last — and the most compelling word in thrillers.? James Ellroy
"A stunning thriller! Bangkok 8 is suspense at its best: a masterfully written tale set in a world that's perfectly evoked and populated with compelling, flesh-and-blood characters." Jeffery Deaver, author of The Stone Monkey
About the Author
John Burdett is a nonpracticing lawyer who worked in Hong Kong for a British firm until he found his true vocation as a writer. Since then, he has lived in France and Spain and is now back in Hong Kong. He is the author of A Personal History of Thirst and The Last Six Million Seconds.
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