Published by Alfred A. Knopf
Bangkok Haunts by John Burdett is a fascinating crime novel set in the infamous city of Bangkok in Thailand. The protagonist is Sonchai Jitpleecheep, one of very few honest police officers in the Royal Thai Police Force. He negotiates portions of his boss’s kickbacks for the alleviation of poverty. Sonchai is sent a snuff film that is especially disturbing as the woman was a prostitute that Sonchai had fallen in love with and had a brief but painful relationship. As Sonchai and Lek, his transsexual partner, dig deeper into the case, it leads them to higher and more dangerous levels of Thai society.
The victim haunts him, tormenting him with their past relationship. Add in an FBI agent who has her own emotional agenda; a wife who is expecting; a boss who has him supervising the shooting of a porn movie and Sonchai has almost more than he can handle.
The author has chosen to write in the first person a style I usually find weak and often distracting. Yet by putting the reader inside Sonchai’s head, the author offers a unique perspective on Thai culture. You live through Sonchai’s struggles both with his work and his life. Everything is filtered through his eyes, and you find yourself immersed in a foreign culture without the need for translation or explanation.
Bangkok Haunts gives a glimpse into a different world where very little works according to our Western assumptions. Filled with interesting and well-written characters and a plot that twists and turns to a terrific ending, John Burdett has crafted a novel that gives the reader a roller coaster ride in an exotic setting.