My new novel, Vanishing Games
, is a heist thriller set in the gambling city of Macau, China. I lived there briefly while researching the book and was taken aback by the incredibly eclectic sounds of the city. For those of you who have never been, let me fill you in — Macau is like Las Vegas on pure Chinese meth. The casinos are constantly blasting classic Sinatra. The nightclubs host famous rappers and superstar DJs. The restaurants all play the same style of downtempo house. Macau is dark and loud and lonely and expensive. It's the perfect setting for a dark crime thriller — just walking down the street is an attack on the senses. So here is a small sample of the music I heard there. Listen to these songs while you read my book. You won't regret it.
1. "Sinnerman, Live in New York/1965" by Nina Simone
"Sinnerman" is by far the most important song in Vanishing Games. It's mentioned in the first paragraph. Believe me; if you're ever planning a massive heist on the South China Sea, you want this song playing in the background.
2. "Diamonds from Sierra Leone" by Kanye West
Shirley Bassey's 1971 James Bond song, "Diamonds Are Forever," already perfectly captures the shimmering beauty of Macau's skyline at night. Add Kanye West and you've got the perfect anthem for a jewelry store robbery.
3. "Ghostwriter" by RJD2
I heard this song everywhere in Macau. It stood out to me because it combines elements of jazz with electronica. I don't think I've heard anything so smooth and smart.
4. "Teardrop" by Massive Attack
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You might recognize this as the theme song from the show House, MD. If you've never listened to the full version before, you're in for a treat. "Teardrop" is an excellent blend of excitement and melancholy. Perfect for a hangover.
5. "Raise Your Weapon" by Deadmau5
This is the theme song. Simple as that.
6. "Between Two Points" by The Glitch Mob
Macau attracts some of the biggest DJs in the world, and the Glitch Mob puts on a hell of a show. They're not just your typical electronic act, though. Their songs are soulful, dark, and atmospheric.
7. "Bad Motherfucker (I.O.E. 2 Version)" by Biting Elbows
Want to know what a heist feels like? Throw on this Russian rock ballad. Try not to steal anything while you're listening to it. I dare you.
8. "Kansas City Shuffle 1" by Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra
This song, recorded in 1926, is named after a famous confidence game. Vanishing Games features a version of that game. What is a Kansas City Shuffle, you ask? It's best described by these words: "When they look right, you go left."