Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category


Sam Millar – The Bangkok Asset: A novel

Original Article

Sonchai Jitpleecheep—the brash and beguiling Royal Thai Police Force Homicide Detective who has been the narrator through John Burdett’s five previous acclaimed Bangkok novels—is back. The former monk and devout Buddhist, forever battling to protect his karma from the assaults of morally compromising cases, is now faced with the most horrifying technological innovation to make its way to the streets of Bangkok and a conspiracy of almost unfathomable reach.

Sonchai is at his desk in District 8 Police Station when he gets word of a body being found not too far away. A few streets, in fact, in the market area. As the only homicide detective at the station, he has no other choice but to investigate, never realizing what a can of nightmarish worms he’s about to open for himself and his troubled past.

When he arrives at the scene, despite the horrors he has encountered over the years, little prepares him for what awaits: the decapitated body of a young schoolgirl, the head seemingly pulled off the rest of the torso by sheer physical force. Bizarrely, the face is unblemished, not a mark to indicate the horror the rest of its body had to endure.

To add mystery to the gruesome scene, a personal cryptic message to Sonchai in the victim’s blood is scrawled across a mirror in the room:

“Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep, I know who [smudge] father is.”

Why has Sonchai’s obsessive search for his unknown biological American father been brought into this? A red herring? Or something sinister? How many people even know of Sonchai’s searching? Could the killer actually have connections with Sonchai or his family?

Teaming up with Sonchai on this case is a young female inspector by the name of Krom. Like Sonchai, she’s an outsider on the police force, but unlike him, she is socially savvy and a technological prodigy.

When they’re called to a clandestine demonstration—in the midst of a typhoon—of the deadly, superhuman strength of an American man who is seemingly controlled by a CIA operative, they have no idea what they’re actually witnessing or why. Could the Americans have figured out a way to create a physically and psychologically enhanced supersoldier? Are they testing him—or it—on Thai soil? And why is everyone, from the Bangkok police to the international community, so eager to turn a blind eye?

To add to the surreal scene, before his very eyes Sonchai witnesses a double murder. Two men in a boat each throwing a woman into the raging torrent of the Chao Phraya River, mercilessly allowing their victims to drown. More shockingly, it later transpires that the killers and victims are related: mother and wife.

Searching for the answers to these questions, Sonchai and Krom find themselves in a remote Cambodian jungle compound for aging American ex-soldiers, where they will discover just how far a government will go to protect its worst secrets—both past and present. But the case will also have much more personal repercussions for Sonchai, shaking his world to its very foundation and perhaps finally forcing him to confront his long-lost American father.

Bangkok Asset is an intelligent, high-octane psychological thriller from a master storyteller at the top of his game, chilling at times but with the right balance of dark, sly humor. Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep is a class act.

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Philippe Manche (le Soir)

6/7 April 13, de Page 37
John Burdett, le sage

On aime beaucoup cet écrivain anglais révélé par Bangkok 8 et ses suites. On aime surtout John Burdett pour avoir donné naissance à Sonchaï Jitpleecheep, flic thaï né de l’union d’une prostituée et d’un Américain. «J’ai compris, une fois installe à Bangkok, que beaucoup d’enfants sont nés de père américain et de mère thaïe», explique cet alerte gaillard de 6l ans rencontre le week-end dernier à Lyon, au festival Quai du polar. « Certains ont des pères blacks, ça donne un drôle de mélange. Le plus intéressant, avec un personage comme Sonchaï, c’est qu’il a deux modes de pensée. L’une occidentale et l’autre orientale. Ce que je suis aussi. D’un côté, je ne peux pas me passer d’Internet, c’est tellement pratique pour faire des recherches pour mes Uvres. J’ai aussi une dimension plus spirituelle. Le bouddhisme est la seule religion qui me convienne parce que tu réalises combien, nous les Occidentaux, sommes rongés par l’impatience. Avec le bouddhisme, tu trouves une balance qui t’équilibre. » Continue Reading…


Jonathan Yardley (Washington Post) – Vulture Peak

Original Article

Here we have the fifth of John Burdett’s “Bangkok novels,” all of them featuring the philosophical Buddhist police detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep and all of them redolent — in the most enjoyable way — of crime, violence, corruption and sex, not necessarily in that order. “Vulture Peak” upholds the high standards set by its predecessors. Readers who know the first four novels will be delighted to have a fifth, and others coming to Burdett’s Bangkok for the first time will quickly find themselves in a place that may seem mysteriously alien but positively teems with humanity.
Continue Reading…


A.J. Kirby (New York Journal of Books) – Vulture Peak

“Vulture Peak is a modern morality tale with all the requisite bells and whistles and much more: a salutary warning for the Internet age. ‘It’s a beautiful, global world, so long as you keep your eyes shut.’”

“In the morning I woke to feel the world on my shoulders, which is where it normally sits. I know there are other cops all over the planet who feel the same way. The steady accumulation of human dirt—let’s call it evil—makes it a little harder, day by day, to find the light.”

Continue reading at… NY Journal of Books

Reviewer A. J. Kirby is the author of Bully and The Magpie Trap and is an award-winning short-story writer.


Material Witness – The Godfather of Kathmandu

Material Witness website

This is the first of John Burdett’s novels I have read, and to be honest it made me wonder what the hell I’ve been doing with my life. It is electric, dazzling, sensational – the literary equivalent of mind-altering pharmaceuticals, the trade of which, incidentally, are at the heart of a bewilderingly thrilling plot. Continue Reading…