Bangkok 8

by John Burdett

I was not looking forward to reading this thriller but quickly became hooked on the story and just had to have my next fix of the junkies and prostitutes of Bangkok's seedy underworld. Bangkok is really the main character while Sonchai, the mixed race cop narrator, represents many of the contradictions in this teeming city. Be warned though - this story is not for the sensitive or squeamish reader.


The atmosphere is something between a festival and a hunting lodge. It's that time in the evening when the girls make an extra effort, before the 2 a.m. curfew when the cops close the place down, and the men sense the increase in intensity, like wildebeests sniffing lion. Everyone is drinking Singha or Kloster beer ice cold straight from the bottle, and wherever you look there are television monitors. Larry King's suspenders scream from a lot of them. Even the guy who sells fried grasshoppers from a stall near the Buddha shrine owns a TV monitor on which he plays old Muhammad Ali fights and scenes from the siege of Stalingrad. Mostly, though, the screens show Manchester United playing Leeds to the boom of every kind of music from a thousand speakers.


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