19 May, 2018


Title: Bangkok Tattoo
Author: John Burdett
Series: Sonchai Jitpleecheep 2
Genres: Crime, Thriller, Mystery
Publisher: Vintage Crime / Black Lizard
Release: July 11th, 2006
Source: ebook
Pages: 320

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Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep of the Royal Thai Police returns in his riveting and smokily atmospheric new thriller.A farang–a foreigner–has been murdered, his body horribly mutilated, at the Bangkok brothel co-owned by Sonchai’s mother and his boss. The dead man was a CIA agent. To make matters worse, the apparent culprit is sweet-natured Chanya, the brothel’s top earner and a woman whom the devoutly Buddhist sleuth has loved for several lifetimes. How can Sonchai solve this crime without sending Chanya to prison? How can he engage in a cover-up without endangering his karma? And how will he ever get to the bottom of a case whose interested parties include American spooks, Muslim fundamentalists, and gangsters from three countries? As addictive as opium, as hot as Sriracha chili sauce, and bursting with surprises, Bangkok Tattoo will leave its mark on you.


EXPECTATIONS: I loved the first book phenomenally, so I expected no less from this book. More mysterious adventures for Sonchai, more of his dramatic character, the fatalistic pain that drove him up walls, and kept him awake at night. More interaction with people who don't understand!

THE WORLD: Bangkok, the realm of bars with upstairs and bar girls who took pride in their work, for it kept their families fed and, in some cases, educated. This is the world where outsiders come to rest, just to get their hearts stolen forever. But, at the same time, this is also the world where outsiders get killed and skinned for sleeping with someone's favorite girl. In this particular case, timing is important too: the book is set soon after the horrifying 9/11 terrorist attack in America.

CHARACTERS: CIA agent got killed in a bar girl's room. They were lovers, and while his love was never returned by her, she was kind, and so they separated on good enough terms. Still, his mutilated body on her floor is incriminating. Yet Sonchai is not willing to believe someone as kind as Chanya could kill and mutilate a man like that. Question is, is his almost divine vision not being clouded when looking upon this woman he loved in many past lives? Just in case there's a chance she's not guilty, he's prepared to pick up every lead, and find every other possible person involved, all the while trying to help his transgender partner find help, and keep his boss satisfied enough with his work.

ROMANCE:  Sonchai got head over heels for Chanya very quickly, abandoning a character trait after a character trait for a girl who, much like him, calculated karma points for Buddha. She, while seemingly formerly in love with another madman, responds to Sonchai's love, so, really, my personal opinions aside, all is well here.

GOOD: Not much. Some interesting ideas, like the possibility that some humans aren't even humans, for we're only as human as our souls are, bodies can inhabit pretty much anything. So, this time, Sonchai didn't just see former life merchants. He saw demons, aliens, entities.

BAD: All the interesting character traits got washed away. It's like everyone lost their personalities. Whatever fatalistic desires Sonchai had that made him so special, such a diamond in the rough - gone, completely. And since he's the one telling the story, the story quality dropped too!  

OVERALL: Yeah, no. This was really not as good as the first book. Just another thriller detective, like many others, with dull characters. If Sonchai develops heavy drinking attitude in the next book too, I quit the series. But for now, I'll give it another go, with hopes, lots and lots of it.

What do you think about BANGKOK TATTOO



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