by John Burkett
Category: Fiction / Mystery
0 pages; ISBN: 1400040450
Rating: 9/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner
Knopf, May 2005, $24.00
In Bangkok, Nong, part owner of the Old Man’s Club, calls her son Royal Thai police detective Chai Jipleecheep and her partner, Chai’s superior Colonel Vikorn to inform them that one of their ladies, Chanya killed a visiting American. While Nong thinks killing customers is bad for business, Vikorn informs Chai that the homicide was an act of self defense without visiting the crime scene or interviewing the woman who has confessed. Chai persuades his boss to come to the hotel room where the murder occurred. The victim not only had his penis removed, but possessed an interesting Visa that allowed multiple reentries over the next two years. In other words Mitch Turner was from the CIA.
Vikorn knows self defense or homicide means the CIA, the FBI, and the Thai government will be all over them from head to toes. Instead Vikorn, needing to protect his investment decides to throw the blame on Al Qaeda, which will make the Americans happy. While Vikorn tries to con the Yanks and his superiors, Chai conducts inquiries into the homicide because he has problems accepting that even an opium dazed Chanya would commit mutilation.
This Thai police procedural is a wonderful tale starring an interesting detective trying to remain honest when surrounded by corrupt individuals including his mother. The secondary cast provides insight into the society as well as set an amoral tone to the tale that only seemingly Chai counters. The official inquiries are cleverly designed to occur below the radar screen of the Americans seeking the Al Qaeda connection. Fans of exotic locale who-done-its will enjoy this fine tale and seek Chai’s previous solid investigative tale (see BANGKOK 8).
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