01 June, 2018


Title: Bangkok Haunts
Author: John Burdett
Series: Sonchai Jitpleecheep 3
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
Release: June 10th, 2008
Source: ebook
Pages: 368

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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 novel.

Sonchai has seen virtually everything on his beat in Bangkok's District 8, but nothing like the snuff film he's just been sent anonymously. 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 more than lives up to the smart and darkly funny originality of its predecessors.


EXPECTATIONS: I loved the first book. Then I hated the second book. My expectations were mediocre at best, and I was dreading some kind of family drama happening instead of continuation on supernatural, magic ravaged land crime solving.

THE WORLD: Bangkok. Sonchai is now a co-owner of one of girl bars his mother owns, being a retired bar girl herself. These people lead their lives with Buddhist beauty of the mind where selling the body is meaningless, for that part of the body doesn't matter for spiritual enlightenment anyway. And yet, when majority of the women are forced into this line of work for mere reason of there being no other profitable jobs, you can't avoid the drama that leads some more sensitive souls into. Especially in such an occult place, where making donations for luck is a thing, wearing certain colors for the day of the week may define your life or the end of it on that same day, or where a spirit can simply cross over into your dreams and leave your body ravaged or your soul - reaped. 

CHARACTERS: Sonchai and Chanya are expecting a baby and seem pretty happy together. Their relationship is unusual, so it was pretty interesting to read after all. Everything's based upon karma points for each other, and their future baby. American FBI agent, Sonchai's friend and former partner, is evolving too. In fact, she finally seems to have found her own fatal love in Bangkok, falling for a transgender woman, Sonchai's new partner and duty. It was interesting to see that kind of reasoning of "why HE can't get a surgery, it's barbaric", while SHE couldn't understand how can there even be a question. But that all falls behind the main story, where a Buddhist monk is fulfilling his dead sister's will. She died in one of the so called "snuff movies", an adult movie where one of the parties gets literally killed during the act. These movies fetch insane prices, and are usually made without the consent of the party meant to die. Not in this case. In this case she seemed to have chosen this role for herself, and as a result is now in full control over serious supernatural forces that are reaping lives left and right. What were her reasons, how could anyone choose death, you'd ask? Well, that's something Sonchai must figure out soon, before too many innocents who got involved due to circumstances get killed using hands of unaware evildoers.

ROMANCE:  Sonchai was madly in love with the dead woman from the snuff movie. It happened soon after his partner and soul mate had died, and his fatalistic self sought any kind of comfort. Apparently, she still visits him at nights now, having sex with him while being a ghost. And Chanya has had about enough of it. FBI agent also has a romance line, for she falls head over heels over Sonchai's transgender partner, and gets really mad when she finds out Sonchai is paying for her surgeries. 

GOOD: While Sonchai still hasn't re-obtained his full charm, it was very interesting to see such a powerful occult crime story, with so much spirituality, to see the measure of anger a soul can feel towards the unfair world, to the point where it can re-enter it and cause havoc. Some side stories were great too, and the FBI agent is evolving very nicely, I hope to see her in other books too.

BAD: The bad, well... It took forever to reach any kind of conclusions. And I miss Sonchai talking about past lives, and explaining how this or that person is connected to this or that situation due to the past life they led.   

OVERALL: Right, yes, this book was far better than the second one, but not as good as the first one. It's worth reading it, but you really have to set your mind for the fact that this will be a very unusual crime thriller. Guns blazing doesn't cut it, more like spirits ravaging, killing people from within out, and bullets to their corpses is the only thing that helps.

What do you think about BANGKOK HAUNTS



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