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    Original Essays | January 19, 2015

    Emma Hooper: IMG From Musician to Novelist

    I was asleep on the floor of the magicians' apartment. Not one, but three magicians lived there, and their mysterious, mischievous, and sometimes... Continue »
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3 Burnside Mystery- A to Z

This title in other editions

Bangkok Haunts


Bangkok Haunts Cover




Chapter OneFew crimes make us fear for the evolution of our species. I am watching one right now.In a darkened room in the District 8 Police Station with my good friend FBI agent Kimberley Jones, a forty-two-inch Toshiba LCD monitor hangs high up on a wall, out of the reach of villains.The video Im sharing with the FBI uses two industrial-quality cameras that between them seamlessly provide all the tricks of zoom, angle, pan, et cetera, and I am told that at least two technicians must have been involved in its production. The color is excellent, thanks to however many millions of pixels that contribute to their subtle shading; we are looking at a product of high civilization unknown to our forefathers. At the end of the movie, though, tough-guy Kimberley bursts into tears, as Id rather hoped she would. I did. She turns her head to stare at me wild-eyed.“Tell me it isnt real.”“We have the body,” I say.“Oh, god,” Kimberley says. “Oh, sweet Jesus, Ive seen things bloodier, but never anything this demonic. I thought Id seen everything.” She stands up. “I need air.”I think, In Bangkok? But I lead her through a couple of corridors, then out into the public area, where brown men and women not much more than half her size wait to tell a cop of their homely grievances. Its not exactly a festive atmosphere, but its human. An American extrovert, Kimberley doesnt mind dabbing her red eyes with a tissue in front of an audience, who naturally assume Ive just busted this female farang on some minor drug charge—cannabis, perhaps. Like my own, her eyes naturally seek out any attractive young women sitting in the plastic seats. There are three, all of them prostitutes. (No respectable Thai woman dresses like that.) They resent the attention and glare back. I think Kimberley would like to hug them in gratitude that theyre still alive. I take her out into the street: not quite what the words fresh air normally invoke, but she fills her lungs anyway. “My god, Sonchai. The world. What monsters are we creating?”We have achieved that rare thing, Kimberley and I: a sexless but intimate rapport between a man and a woman of the same age who are mutually attracted to each other but, for reasons beyond analysis, have decided to do nothing about it. Even so, I was surprised when she simply got on a plane in response to a frantic telephone call from me. I had no idea she was specializing in snuff movies these days; nor did I realize they were flavor of the month in international law enforcement. Anyway, its great to have a top-notch pro familiar with the latest technology on my side. Shes not intuitive, as I am, but owns a mind like a steel trap. So do I treat her like a woman or a man? Are there any rules about that where she comes from? I give her a comradely embrace and squeeze her hand, which seems to cover most points. “Its great to have you here, Kimberley,” I say. “Thanks again for coming.”She smiles with that innocence that can follow an emotional catastrophe. “Sorry to be a girl.”“I was a girl too, the first time I saw it.”She nods, unsurprised. “Where did you get it, in a raid?”I shake my head. “No, it was sent to me anonymously, to my home.” She gives me a knowing look: a personal angle here.“And the body, where was it found? At the crime scene?”“No. It had been returned to her apartment, laid neatly on the bed. Forensics says she must have been killed somewhere else.”Now the American Hero emerges. “Were gonna get them, Sonchai. Tell me what you need, and Ill find a way of getting it to you.”“Dont make promises,” I say. “This isnt Iraq.”She frowns. I guess a lot of Americans are tired of hearing those kinds of jibes. “No, but that movie had a certain style, a certain professionalism about it, and if that alpha male isnt North American, Ill turn in my badge.”“A Hollywood production?”“For something like that, frankly the U.S. is the first place I would start looking. Specifically California, but not Hollywood. San Fernando Valley, maybe, with international connections. This could tie in with what Im doing stateside.”“What would you look for? He was wearing a gimp mask.”“The eyeholes are quite large—light had to get in. You have isometric surveillance at all points of entry to this country. Give me a copy of the DVD—Ill get our nerds on the case. If they can make a good still of his eyes and enlarge it, its as good as a fingerprint. Better. Are you going to let me see the body?”“If you want. But how deeply involved do you want to get?”“Look, I dont know much, but Chanya told me youre very upset. That touches me too. If I can help, then thats what I want to do.”“Chanya spilled her guts?”“She loves you. She hinted that you need a little moral support from a fellow professional. I said okay, Ill do what I can, so long as he lets me in.”The FBI has no idea how many points shes accumulated with me for treating a pregnant third-world ex-prostitute as a friend and equal. That kind of heroism leaves us slack-jawed in these parts. Chanya loves her too, of course, and when a Thai girl loves, she tells all.A tuk-tuk passes, spilling black pollution from its two-stroke engine. They used to be a symbol of Thailand: three wheels, a steel roof on vertical struts, and a happy smiling driver. Now theyre a tourist gimmick catering to a diminishing number of tourists. So far the new millennium has not delivered much in the way of new; instead we have a certain foreboding that a return to old-fashioned grinding poverty might be our share of globalism. Kimberley hasnt noticed this yet—shes been here only two days, and already the work ethic has gripped her. Shes not seeing the tuk-tuk or even its pollution.“Im not going to use our guys to copy the DVD,” I say. She looks at me. “That kind of thing is produced in very limited numbers, sold to a specialized international market.” She is still looking at me. I feel blood rising up my neck, into facial blood vessels. “This is a poor country.” Still the look: I have to come clean. “They would sell it.”She turns away to save me from her contempt. A couple of beats pass, then briskly: “Im okay now. How are you going to copy it?”“Im not. Ill put it in my pocket. You can use the business center at the Grand Britannia to e-mail it straight from the disk.”She waits in the public area while I go back to retrieve the disk: five point seven megabytes of distilled evil. Out on the street she pauses to stare at a young monk in his early to mid-twenties. He is tall, and there is an exotic elegance about him incongruous with the Internet café he is about to enter.“Using the Net is frowned on by the Sangha, especially in public areas, but its not a serious offense. Often monks use it to check Buddhist websites,” I explain, glad to talk about something lighter than a snuff movie.“Is he a regular around here? Somehow this doesnt seem like the kind of place a monk would want to hang out.” Kimberley feels the need for small talk too.“I saw him for the first time yesterday. I dont know which wat hes attached to.”

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

Burdett, John
Vintage Books USA
Mystery & Detective - General
Sex oriented businesses
Police - Thailand - Bangkok
Mystery-A to Z
mystery;fiction;thailand;bangkok;crime;detective;buddhism;thriller;novel;crime fiction;prostitution;police;ghosts;asia;noir;sonchai jitpleecheep;murder;police procedural;suspense
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.00x5.20x.81 in. .58 lbs.

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Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z

Bangkok Haunts Used Trade Paper
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Product details 368 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9781400097067 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Sonchai Jitpleecheep, the devout Buddhist Royal Thai Police detective who led readers through the bestsellers "Bangkok 8" and "Bangkok Tattoo," returns in this blistering crime novel.
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