Cover image for Bangkok haunts
Title:
Bangkok haunts
Edition:
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2007.
ISBN:
9780307263186
Physical Description:
305 p. ; 25 cm.
Language:
English
Abstract:
Royal Thai Police detective and devout Buddhist Sonchai Jitpleecheep investigates a mysterious snuff film in which the victim is Damrong, a woman whom he had once loved obsessively, following a haunted trail that leads to Bangkok's most exclusive men's club.
Holds:

Available:*

Library
Material Type
Shelf Number
Copies
Item Notes
Status
Searching...
Book BURDETT, J. 1 .SOURCE. INGRAM
Searching...
Searching...
Book BURDETT, JOHN 1
Searching...
Searching...
Book BURDETT, JOHN 1
Searching...
Searching...
Book BURDETT 1 .SOURCE. 6-07 B&T
Searching...
Searching...
Book M BURDETT 1
Searching...
Searching...
Book BURDETT, JOHN 1
Searching...
Searching...
Book MYSTERY BURDETT, J. 1 .SOURCE. BT 6/01/07
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

Sonchai Jitpleecheep -- the devout Buddhist Royal Thai Police detective who led us through the best sellers Bangkok 8 and Bangkok Tattoo -- returns in this blistering new novel. Sonchai has seen virtually everything on his beat in Bangkok ' s District 8, but nothing like the video he ' s just been sent anonymously: Few crimes make us fear for the evolution of our species. I am watching one right now. He ' s watching a snuff film. And the person dying before his disbelieving eyes is Damrong -- a woman he once loved obsessively and, now it becomes clear, endlessly. And there is something more: something at the end of the film that leaves Sonchai both figuratively and literally haunted. While his investigation will lead him through the office of the ever-scheming police captain, Vikorn ( Don ' t spoil a great case with too much perfectionism, he advises Sonchai); in and out of the influence of a perhaps psychotic wandering monk; and eventually into the gilded rooms of the most exclusive men ' s club in Bangkok (whose members will do anything to protect their identities, and to explore their most secret fantasies), it also leads him to his own simple bedroom where he sleeps next to his pregnant wife while his dreams deliver him up to Damrong . . . Ferociously smart and funny, furiously fast-paced, and laced through with an erotic ghost story that gives a new dark twist to the life of our hero, Bangkok Haunts does exactly that from first page tolast.


Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

At the start of Burdett's superb third mystery-thriller to feature Thai police detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep (after Bangkok 8 and Bangkok Tattoo), Jitpleecheep shows old friend Kimberley Jones, an American FBI agent, a vicious snuff film he's received depicting the murder of an ex-lover of his named Damrong. Jitpleecheep and Jones maintain their complex platonic relationship as, helped by Jitpleecheep's assistant Lek, they pursue Damrong's killers. The trail leads them to an important banker, an American teacher, a Buddhist and an exclusive men's club called the Parthenon. Jitpleecheep, who now lives with Chanya, a former prostitute pregnant with his child, is visited in an erotic way by Damrong's ghost, while his corrupt superior, police colonel Vikorn, orders Jitpleecheep to help start a porn film business. Expertly juggling elements that in lesser hands would become confused or hackneyed, Burdett has created a haunting, powerful story that transcends genre. 75,000 first printing; 6-city author tour. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Booklist Review

Burdett's first two Sonchai Jitplecheep novels, starring the Bangkok police detective and co-owner, with his mother, of a brothel in the city's notorious District 8, heralded the arrival of a distinctive new voice in crime fiction. His third effort goes further, building on the exquisite moral ambiguity implicit in both setting and hero with tighter plotting and, if possible, an even more potent mix of underworld seaminess, startling tenderness, and Buddhist wisdom. The novel begins with a declaration: Few crimes make us fear for the evolution of our species. I am watching one right now. What Sonchai is watching is a snuff film starring a bewitching whore with the ability to hold men of all types in thrall. Sonchai knows because he was once one of those men and because the now-dead whore, Damrong, has been seducing him nightly in his dreams. Compelled to find the killer and free himself from Damrong, Sonchai follows the trail left by the film, but to get the answers he needs he must confront one of the most powerful men in Bangkok--a move that Sonchai's boss, the elegantly corrupt Colonel Vikorn, vetoes unequivocally. The answers, shrouded in multiple meanings, come eventually, but at great cost to all those involved. Burdett's Bangkok may be the most vibrant landscape of any in current crime fiction, and Sonchai--an improbable mix of West and East, the fact-seeking investigator meets the tranquil Buddhist, at ease with contrary realities--is certainly the genre's most intriguing sleuth. --Bill Ott Copyright 2007 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

WHO knew that "Bangkok 8" and "Bangkok Tattoo" were just the warm-up acts? As vibrantly as those sizzling thrillers captured the exotic flavor of crime and corruption in Thailand's capital city, John Burdett's BANGKOK HAUNTS (Knopf, $24.95) opens up new avenues of awe. Even Sonchai Jitpleecheep, the urbane detective with the Royal Thai Police who narrates the bizarre stories in this series, is struck dumb by the sadistic snuff film that sets the latest gaudy plot in motion. "Few crimes make us fear for the evolution of our species," this devout Buddhist observes. "I am watching one right now." To add to his despair, the woman being strangled in the film is Damrong, a prostitute who was the love of his life when she worked in the Old Man's Club, the brothel Sonchai operates with his mother. Like others who succumbed to Damrong's charms, he's still in thrall to this fascinating creature, who returns in spirit as a sexually voracious wraith who will continue to haunt him if he doesn't bring her killer to justice - and do something about this new development in the city's notorious pornography industry. Daunting enough, the task is complicated by his cheerfully corrupt superior's eagerness to branch out from his methamphetamine business by getting into the porn racket. The ambiguous moral hemisphere Sonchai inhabits can be downright dizzying, but since he observes the rites and rituals of his native culture as conscientiously as he consults a professional colleague from the F.B.I., this selfdescribed half-caste is well positioned to negotiate all paths to enlightenment. Girding himself to outwit a vengeful ghost or a hired killer comes as naturally as offering good-luck lotus blossoms to the Buddha above the cash register at the family brothel. "You live in a magic-ravaged land," Sonchai's F.B.I, contact tells him. But the wonder of Burdett's hallucinatory brand of Southeast Asian magic - which puts his novels in range of the fabulous Yellowthread Street procedurals William Marshall set in Hong Kong and of Colin Cotterill's fanciful mysteries featuring the Laotian coroner-sleuth Dr. Siri Paiboun - is that this spooky stuff is manifested in a real world governed by what Sonchai calls "functional barbarism." The author, who practiced criminal law in Asia and clearly knows his territory, has a fine skill for distilling the morbid beauty (not to mention the grotesque humor) in scenes of everyday misery. But in the end, death-by-ghost still seems a step up from a real-life peasant existence in which children eat dirt and are occasionally stomped to death by elephants. Con Lehane's mysteries about a genial Irish-American bartender named Brian McNulty are as cruelly charming as those Irish saloon storytellers who make sure you're laughing before they flatten you with the sad stories of their lives. Running true to form, DEATH AT THE OLD HOTEL (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's Minotaur, $24.95) opens in the still-carefree days of the early 1990s at a hotel bar on Midtown Manhattan's far west side. It's December, and everyone's in a Christmas mood. But holiday spirits take a dive when the nasty manager unfairly fires a waitress and Brian, proud son of an old Commie organizer and a devoted union man, finds himself leading a strike. Goaded by his friend and fellow bartender, Barney Saunders, "a wild, young Irishman" of irresistible appeal, this big-hearted hero tries to prove a connection between the manager and a crooked union boss, and before you know it, two people are shot dead - and everyone on the picket line is a suspect. For all the sentimental trimmings he hangs on this tale, Lehane has an honest feel for the working-class life of New York. And he's clear-eyed about those crimes of the heart that have nothing to do with class. There are certain places on this earth so eerie in their austere beauty that they fairly demand to be used as the setting for a mystery. In RAVEN BLACK (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's Minotaur, $24.95), Ann Cleeves obliges with a chilling tale set in a remote Scottish village in the Shetland Islands. The murder plot is fairly straight-forward: a teenage girl is found strangled, and the killer, according to local rumor, is a crazy old man who lives alone and has long been suspected in the disappearance of another local girl. But before the police can make a case, yet another child disappears. On these bare bones, Cleeves drapes moody descriptions of the harsh climate conditions on "bare wastes of heather moorland," stark observations on the revolting instincts of birds of prey and suggestive profiles of characters who have lived too long in these lonely parts. Never mind the murders; her study of a forgotten soul waiting for someone to come to his door and wish him a happy new year is enough to freeze the blood. In THE BROKEN SHORE (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25), Peter Temple drops the clipped delivery that gives a hard edge to his popular Jack Irish mysteries and delivers a mature and measured account of the kind of crimes committed in the dead quiet of rural Australia. Joe Cashin, his Victoria Police homicide detective, is also a different breed of hero. Unlike Jack Irish, who is as tough as old boots, Cashin has been sensitized by a close call with death and is making a slow recovery in the coastal area where he grew up. But when two Aboriginal youths caught with goods belonging to a murdered white man are killed in a police shootout, Cashin can't ignore the region's virulent strains of racism. Along with giving us mournful scenes of civilization's slow encroachment on an idyllic countryside, Temple offers some provocative and painful views of Australia's inner landscape. John Burdett Even the urbane detective who narrates Burdetts Bangkok thrillers is appalled by the snuff film that sets his latest plot in motion.


Kirkus Review

Vice spins the wheels of this third gritty procedural following Bangkok 8 (2003) and Bangkok Tattoo (2005) and featuring Buddhist Thai policeman Sonchai Jitpleecheep. It begins with bangs and whimpers as Sonchai and his sometime associate, FBI agent Kimberley Jones, react emotionally as they view a snuff film that appears to record a notorious prostitute's murder. The dead woman (Damrong) was Sonchai's former lover--a fact that compromises and energizes the investigation that permits Burdett to conduct another mordant whirlwind tour of Bangkok's darkest places as well as the even seamier environs of the Internet. The story, narrated in Sonchai's urbane weary voice, is filled with intriguing nuggets of Buddhist wisdom and custom (e.g., "color-coding" for dress appropriate to specific days of the week) and graced by brief but telling appearances of such recurring characters as Sonchai's Myrna Loy-like wife Chanya, his amoral entrepreneur mother Nong and his superior officer Colonel Vikorn (a meth addict whose ratiocinative powers remain blessedly unclouded). Assisted by his transsexual partner Lek, and a convicted cinematographer ("Yammy") whose price for providing inside blue-movie info is the right to make "artistic" porn films (i.e., with plots), Sonchai labors to ignore the ghosts of his own self-indulgent past while pursuing a comic-operatic gallery of suspects: Damrong's former husband (and pimp?) Daniel Baker; low-life-loving prosperous businessman Khun Tanakan; tireless porn stud Stanislaus Kowlovski; and Damrong's brother Gamon, a priest whose path to righteousness may have been financed by his big sister's illicit earnings. The trail leads to Cambodia, the history of Damrong's wretched family and a savage exercise in investigative technique known as "the elephant game." The plot sputters, but Burdett holds our attention throughout a breezy tale reminiscent of the late, great Ross Thomas's byzantine Asian-inflected capers. Not for your Agatha Christie-loving maiden aunt, but good grisly fun for those who like their noir rated NC-17. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Library Journal Review

Royal Thai Police detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep is shocked by a video he receives. It depicts a murder, and the victim is a woman he still loves. With a six-city tour. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter One Few 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 I'm 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 I'd rather hoped she would. I did. She turns her head to stare at me wild-eyed. "Tell me it isn't real." "We have the body," I say. "Oh, god," Kimberley says. "Oh, sweet Jesus, I've seen things bloodier, but never anything this demonic. I thought I'd 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. It's not exactly a festive atmosphere, but it's human. An American extrovert, Kimberley doesn't mind dabbing her red eyes with a tissue in front of an audience, who naturally assume I've 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 they're 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, it's great to have a top-notch pro familiar with the latest technology on my side. She's 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. "It's 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. "We're gonna get them, Sonchai. Tell me what you need, and I'll find a way of getting it to you." "Don't make promises," I say. "This isn't 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 isn't North American, I'll 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 I'm 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--I'll get our nerds on the case. If they can make a good still of his eyes and enlarge it, it's 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 don't know much, but Chanya told me you're very upset. That touches me too. If I can help, then that's 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, I'll do what I can, so long as he lets me in." The FBI has no idea how many points she's 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 they're 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 hasn't noticed this yet--she's been here only two days, and already the work ethic has gripped her. She's not seeing the tuk-tuk or even its pollution. "I'm 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: "I'm okay now. How are you going to copy it?" "I'm not. I'll 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 it's 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 doesn't 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 don't know which wat he's attached to." Excerpted from Bangkok Haunts by John Burdett All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.