19 September 2006

John Burdett, Bangkok 8. New York: Vintage, 2004.

Some concepts are universal. For instance, when a policeman’s partner is killed, he must be avenged, whether it is in New York City or Thailand. As the title suggests, this time it happens in Thailand. The location complicates things a bit.

First complication: the murder, well, wasn’t murder. The officer was killed by a poisonous snake. The snake was inside a locked car, where it had, presumably, been instrumental in killing the dead man inside; that it killed the cop who opened dthe car to investigate is incidental.

Second complication: the dead cop’s partner is a Buddhist, which means he is as conflicted as Hamlet by the thought of seeking revenge.

Third complication: the intended victim is a U.S. Marine—so the U.S. government gets involved. That always causes problems. In this case, one of these problems is an attractive FBI agent to further distract our Buddhist cop.

Burdett mixes these ingredients with a healthy dose of local Thai flavor—weather, corruption, gridlock, jade, drugs, prostitution, and bureaucracy—to stir up a spicy little thriller.



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