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Bangkok 8 Paperback – 2 Aug 2004

4.1 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Bangkok Eight
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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Corgi Books; New edition edition (2 Aug. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552771406
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552771405
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 10.4 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,300,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

When a US Marine is killed in Bangkok, the task of finding the murderer falls to Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep, seemingly the only member of the Royal Thai Police Force whose idea of justice excludes the habitual bribe-taking practised by his fellow officers. This assignment is especially important to the devout detective because during the investigation of the murder scene, the methamphetamine-stoked snakes that bit the marine also kill Sonchai's police partner, best friend and Buddhist soul-mate Pichai. Sonchai's pursuit of revenge will team him with a sexually frustrated FBI agent and leave them at the mercy of yaa-baa-fuelled motorcycle-taxi drivers as they hurtle through neon-lit Bangkok and into the labyrinthine and deadly machinations of the international jade and drug trades in search of the killer.

At one point Sonchai asks: "This isn't a whodunit, is it?" The answer is no, but John Burdett (also author of A Personal History of Thirst and The Last Six Million Seconds) infuses the plot with enough suspense, detail and dry Asian insight to keep readers rapt as the story careens about the bars and brothels of Thailand, taking in its flesh trade and cut-rate plastic surgery parlours and ending in a climax with a fittingly Buddhist twist. Bangkok 8 is highly recommended for readers in the mood for Thai. --Benjamin Reese, Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"'Cracking East-meets-West thriller introducing a half-Thai, half-American cop whose Buddhist beliefs are as important as his forensic skills. Terrific'" (Observer)

"'A stunning thriller! Bangkok 8 is suspense at its best: a masterfully written tale set in a world that's perfectly evoked and populated with compelling, flesh and blood characters'" (Jeffery Deaver)

"'Bangkok 8 is one of the most startling and provocative mysteries that I've read in years. The characters are marvellously unique, the setting is intoxication and the plot unwinds in dark illusory strands, reminiscent of Gorky Park. Once I started, I didn't put it down'" (Carl Hiassen)

"'Read this book, savor the language - it's the last and the most compelling word in thrillers'" (James Ellroy)

"'John Burdett infuses the plot with enough suspense, detail and dry Asian insight to keep readers rapt as the story careens about the bars and brothels of Thailand, taking in its flesh trade and cut-rate plastic surgery parlours and ending in a climax with a fittingly Buddhist twist. Bangkok 8 is highly recommended'" (amazon.co.uk) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Burdett presents a gritty -- but thoughtful -- crime novel combined with a kind of Rough Guide chic that presents a gripping paradigm of Thailand.

Murder, prostitution, drug trafficking and revenge are, perhaps, something of a staple for the genre, but here we have Buddhism and the karmic quest added to the cocktail of human complexity.

The moral tightrope detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep walks to preserve his already tarnished karma is as page turning as the plot itself: both are as many layered, complex and humane as the depiction of the city and its people.
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Format: Paperback
Firstly this book is incredibly readable: it starts with a shocker and just when you start getting comfortable you're hit by something totally surreal...a bit like living in Asia! Follow the main character, a Thai Policeman called Sonchai, through his own struggles with keeping his Karma in balance, dealing with the loss of his soul brother, and his innate understanding of the Western mind. Explore the Thai Adult Industry with him and meet the Johns, the Janes and the JohnJanes... As a Westerner, it makes you feel kind of small...It's by far the best book I've read in a while...the characters are extreme and utterly believable...incredibly well written with the knowledge of one whos lived there for some time...If you're remotely interested in what happes out in the East, read this book!
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By L. J. Roberts TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 9 April 2009
Format: Paperback
First Sentence: The African American marine in the gray Mercedes will soon die of bites from Naja siamensis, but we don't know that yet, Pichai and I (the future is impenetrable, says the Buddha).

Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep is the son of a Thai retired prostitute and a white man, whose identity his mother won't divulge. Sonchai and Pichai, his partner, best friend and soul-mate, have been assigned to follow a U.S. Marine sergeant. In tailing the sergeant, they lose him for a bit, but then see his car. When they arrive, they see the sergeant, his head half engulfed by a python and being bitten by cobras. In trying to rescue him, Pichai is bitten and killed. Sonchai swears death to the killer.

This was a fascinating book. It has wonderful imagery and humor. I loved the injections of Buddhist philosophy, particularly the attitude toward death. Reincarnation is an accepted fact of being, made even more interesting by Sonchai's ability to see other's past lives. But best is that the author provides a real look at Thai life and culture, not just that as seen by tourists. .

The story is told from Sonchai's point of view and it really is as much, if not more, his story than a traditional police procedural. Not only is Sonchai set apart from those around him because of being of mixed blood, but because, in a country where corruption is accepted, he is arhat (meritorious) and doesn't accept bribes or sleep with women.

I found the story a little hard to follow at times, but at no time was I tempted to stop. I found the ending completely appropriate to the story.
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By A. Ross TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 2 Sept. 2003
Format: Hardcover
I'm a sucker for crime fiction set in unusual locales, so it was with great anticipation that I dove into this Bangkok-set debut novel. Burdett does a magnificent job in bringing Bangkok to life—from the neon-lit sex industry to shocking poverty, endemic corruption, widespread yaa baa (methamphetamine) trade, ever-present Bhuddism, and the lingering effects of the Vietnam war. Things kick off with straight-arrow cops Sonchai and Pichai tailing an American marine—allowing Burdett to give Bangkok's legendary traffic a cameo. However, in the middle of their task, the marine is killed by poisonous snakes, one of whom also kills Pichai when he tries to rescue the marine. From here on out Sonchai is a man on a mission, dedicated to solving the marine's (and thus by extension his partner's) murder. The death of the marine brings with it the involvement of the U.S embassy, and a female FBI agent comes over to liase with Sonchai. The plot is a typically convoluted thriller effort, involving international jade smuggling, a powerful American with White House connections, extreme S&M, Khmer thugs, Chui Chow Chinese gangsters and more. Actually, the story itself if the weakest part of the book, succumbing to stereotypical thriller elements and scenes. And it has to be said—the ending is really, really lame.
Still, there's lots to recommend the book. This is a thriller with many shades of gray to delight in. For example, on the one hand, Sonchai is an arhat (kind of a Bhuddist living saint), the one clean cop in the district, and yet he's clear that the only justice he intends to bring his partner's killer to is that found in the barrel of his gun. Similarly, his boss is totally corrupt, but Sonchai respects and reveres him.
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1 Comment 12 of 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
I was lured to this book by its eye-catching cover and an endorsement in the blurb from Carl Hiaasen, who I rate very higly. I was expecting the book to be full of insights into Bangkok corruption, prostitution and crime. Which, of course, it was. What I hadn't bargained for was the quality of Burdett's writing. Sonchai is a fantastic creation - unique, plausible, complex, flawed, and likeable in equal measure. Ultimately, the crime that drives the plot is somewhat banal (hence only 4 stars) but the lightness of touch and lyricism of the prose is enough to lift this book above the ordinary. You'll enjoy it for its authenticity and superior characterisation, if nothing else. All-in-all a very refreshing, aromatic, sensual, grimey, sapping, seedy change from the derivitive American thriller that publishers seem hellbent on feeding us.
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