My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The second book in John Burdett’s Bangkok / Sonchai Jitpleecheep series is another page turner. I had enjoyed the first book so much that I dragged myself through whatever was on my reading list next and finally begged my friend to ship me book 2, just so I could drop whatever I was reading at the time and dive back into Sonchai’s Bangkok and follow his path as he solves another murder mystery and shares his insights into culture, politics and spirituality in South East Asia. Again I enjoyed the mystery plot, the tone and direct dialogue with the reader, the familiar and the new characters, the world of Thailand’s red light district and the other worlds introduced (like the border town to Malaysia and the culture of Japanese tattoos). There is always something to be learned and contemplated, which makes these books feel more like novels with a mystery element than the other way around. A new twist in this book is that a good part of it is about a different character and location (even though it’s still recounted by Sonchai): the story of the prostitute Chanya’s experience living in the US.
But what really bothered me about this book is that not only everything seems to suddenly fall conveniently into place in the end – but that even though it turns out that Chanya knew all along who the murderer was, Sonchai doesn’t seem to mind that fact at all (even though more murders occur and she remains silent). Is that just because he’s madly in love with her? And what about the fact that in the first book murder was forgiven because a man was more or less pressured to become a katoey, while in this book Sonchai is all supportive of his partner having a sex change? Maybe all that is part of Thai people not putting much emphasis on Western logic as Sonchai puts it in the first book? In any case, I’m already on to reading book #3: Bangkok Haunted.
One thing that I’m very curious about is who has acquired the rights to the books and when the first movie will come out… Apparently for a while there was the rumor that James McTeigue (who directed the awesome V for Vendetta and was the 1st AD on the Matrix films) was slated to direct the first one. But that was three years ago…