July 19, 2007


A Country Of Sex & Kleptocracy (OTTO PENZLER, July 18, 2007, NY Sun)

A few years ago, John Burdett was searching for an exotic locale that hadn't been the background for other thrillers. He had been to Thailand many times but had no serious interest in its sex industry, famous in every corner of the world.

His research, both in the bars of Bangkok and in a Buddhist monastery, paid off wonderfully with his outstanding first crime novel, "Bangkok 8," the police district of his series character, Sonchai Jitpleecheep, a detective in the Royal Thai Police.

Sonchai was again featured in the second novel, "Bangkok Tattoo," a little disappointing after the stunning first novel, and now he's back for a third time in "Bangkok Haunts" (Knopf, 305 pages, $24.95) and returns to the heights of the first book.

Certain elements of Thai life permeate all three novels: the sex trade, Buddhism (which comfortably includes an unquestioning belief in ghosts, the memory of former lives, and other manifestations of spirituality shared by few in the West), and complete corruption, so ubiquitous that it is good-naturedly accepted without question.

His novels-- like those of Donna Leon, or a host of others set abroad -- point up just how minor is the "corruption" in America that the Pork Busters and their ilk whine about.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 19, 2007 10:54 AM

Would it stay minor if not whined about?

Posted by: Mike Earl at July 20, 2007 9:21 AM

Pork is tightly controlled by members, so it can't get out of hand. When a member gets too greedy, the tap is shut tight. Real corruption has no limits.

Posted by: erp at July 20, 2007 3:25 PM