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4.6 out of 5 stars39
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Welcome to Bangkok and meet Mason, ex-soldier and now private investigator, and Dixie, his transgender and more than capable assistant. This is the first book in a new series and if this is anything to go by any new stories should be action packed from beginning to end.

After witnessing a man kicked to death outside a nightclub Mason is surprised to find that the owner of the club and one of his henchmen are calling on him for his help. Apparently one of the staff has gone missing and taken with her a hard drive that contains details of the club’s tax fiddles. Paid to find the girl and the hard drive Mason is in for another surprise, he is friends with the woman who has disappeared.

As Mason with Dixie proceed with their investigation they find that things may not be all that they seem, especially as Bangkok is well known to all for a certain ‘entertainment’ that it offers. Playing a game of cat and mouse with their employers on the case they soon find that this investigation is messy and could bring down well known people in a foreign country.

This is action packed from beginning to end, but as this is the first in a series it does stray into past incidents at times so that you have some kind of back story to the main characters, which you would expect, but the thing that does grate in a couple of places is that you do think that things are a bit too easy for Mason and Dixie with regards to finding out things. But on the whole you just find yourself going with the pace, and indeed this harkens back to the good old days when pulp crime was tops. This would actually make a good action film, especially with Bangkok as the background throughout this story.

I was kindly provided with a review copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley.
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on 22 August 2014
I am not normally attracted to this genre of book, partcularly those featuring some flights of Thai fancy. However as the action takes place in the country I now call home I decided to give the book a try. Well I am certainly pleased I overcame my distrust of Thailand based authors because Bangkok Cowboy is a brilliant read.

Full of action with well defined characters and a fast paced plot that has a few twists and turns all set against the Bangkok cityscape that even short time visitors to Thailand will be able to identify with. The inclusion of a ladyboy as one of the main players is sheer genius, it is very sensitively handled by the author and his/her inclusion alongside the ex-British squaddie makes for a winning team in all senses of the words.

Ron style of writing is very appealing, I like the way he introduces insights into the Thai culture in a completely inoffensive way. All the characters are plausible, I know, I have met a few of them since I have lived in the Kingdom.

Given that this book promises to be the first of other Mason and Dixie adventures I shall certainly be looking for any future novels from this very accomplished author.
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on 23 December 2013
I seldom read novels, but Bangkok Cowboy may change that habit. As a fan of international intrigue movies and as a long-time resident in Southeast Asia, I was drawn to this novel by another long-time Asia hand, Ron McMillan.

By the end of the first chapter, I was hooked. I stayed up very late reading the first half of the book, and woke up early the next morning, immediately cancelling some appointments so that I could finish it. I simply had to find out the fate of the mystery woman at the heart of the story.

There are several layers of mystery in this tale: the breath-taking, rapidly moving plot; the mystery of place and culture; the global socio-economic mysteries of war and poverty lingering in the background; and the mystery surrounding ALL of the characters.

This is decidedly NOT a James Bond imitation. No martini's, swanky hotels and luxurious cars. Instead it is full of back alley sleaze joints and noisy tuk-tuks. The plot is riveting, with unexpected twists and turns in almost all of its 50-plus chapters. Much of the action is quite grizzly, the violence described in gut-wrenching detail. This is not a tale for the faint-hearted. But captivating, it certainly is.

All of the characters are shrouded in mystery, even the "heroes," if they can be called that. All have deep scars left behind by disturbing events or painful life experiences that are revealed bit by bit. I was particularly intrigued by the unconventional team of detective Mason and his ladyboy sidekick Dixie [hmmm, well it is a novel placed in Thailand after all].

My only criticism of the book is that, by the end, I still wanted to know more about Mason and Dixie [as an American southerner, I continue to chuckle at the name choices]. I still do not really understand them very well. They remain a mystery. I guess that means I have to buy the next instalment in the promised-to-be series.

And now I'm looking for another good read. TV, I am reminded, just does not match the excitement of a thriller novel. Amazon has offered up other books in what appears to be a sub-genre in itself: crime in Thailand. Maybe I'll pick one of those to measure just how well Ron's book stacks up.
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on 20 December 2013
Successful suspense-thrillers have to hit several targets. They must have engaging and sharply drawn major characters, realistic minor ones that fill certain roles, a tight plot with enough twists to keep the reader guessing, dialog that rings true, crisp pacing to keep the pages turning, and a strong sense of place, exotic or otherwise. It's a tall order, yet I think "Bangkok Cowboy" manages to hit most of them at or near dead center. Although I've been to Bangkok, it was too short to have an insider's judgment of Thais and the city, but the writer's depiction of both fit my general impressions. The plot was believable and grounded in one of the sadder realities of the world - the sexual exploitation of women and minors - and it had enough surprises to keep me guessing (and guessing wrong more than once). The lead characters of Mason and Dixie seemed real, with enough flaws to be likeable, and most of the minor characters were also believable, though one - a Canadian police-intelligence officer - was a bit too mysterious in certain respects (though the writer may have done so intending to use him in later stories). The major baddies also didn't seem as well-rounded, but it's not their story - it's Mason and Dixie's. Nevertheless, the dialog was crisp, the action slam-bang, and the overall pacing strong and steady enough that you didn't notice the few flaws. Taken together, the story is what the genre demands - a good read. I noticed that "Bangkok Cowboy" is intended as the first in a series of Mason-Dixie suspense thrillers. If so, the writer may hit full stride in the next one. Certainly there's more than enough here to warrant a look at that next one.
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on 28 December 2013
I really enjoyed this book - a tightly written, tension building thriller with plenty of twists and turns in the plot. The central characters are well written and immediately feel credible, making it easy to identify with them and to care about what happens to them as this intriguing tale unfolds.
As the title would suggest, the story is set in the steamy streets of Bangkok, one of the world's most vibrant cities and the author describes the hustle and bustle of its busy streets in some detail, bringing back fond memories if you already know the city but also ensuring the city comes alive for those who are yet to experience it first hand.

I found the central characters particularly enjoyable and was pleased to see that this is touted as the first book in a series that will revolve around soldier of fortune Mason and Dixie, his trusty sidekick with a distinctly Thai difference.
This is an exciting read; a thriller that sets exactly the right pace and tone to keep you involved all the way though. Highly recommended.
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on 2 February 2014
Bangkok Cowboy? Bangkok? Thailand's capital, of course. Cowboy? That would be Mason, a Bangkok-based, ex-military Brit, who specialises in "investigations" and who may also be living with some PTSD. Mason, a 'lone ranger' who also has his own 'Tonto'... in this case, a Thai good-looker called Dixie (whose attributes are more than meets the eye).
So far, so good. But it gets even better.
How so? Well, much, but not all, takes place in around around the fringes of Bangkok's demi-monde... the one that serves and services the hungers and desires of foreign male visitors. And that is engaging in and of itself... for this reader. But Bangkok Cowboy throws light on more than that. But I'm not going to tell you and spoil the fun.
What I can tell you is that Bangkok Cowboy is engaging, brilliantly plotted, and reads very well. And truth be told... it's a page turner from beginning to end. I look forward to the next episode.
In the meantime: Recommended.
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on 23 December 2013
"Bangkok Cowboy", is good enough to have made me miss my stop on the train home three times in the last week. The plotting is hot, the characters now feel like people I know and the descriptions of the Thai capital - the noise, the streets, the food and, of course, the lowlife - are as good as a virtual immersion can be. It would a great screaming spoiler to give away the relationship and the personal details of the two principles, Mason and Dixie, save to say that they're an odd couple in the absolutely unexpected, best sense of that epithet. That Mason and Dixie have their lethal moments is expected and McMillan dishes out the violence with skill, thrills and the right amount of restraint - ie not much - but never without good reason (it's not for shrinking violets but they're probably not reading this anyway). More Mason and Dixie books soon, please. Highly recommended.
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on 9 January 2014
'Bangkok Cowboy' has been a joy to read from start to finish. You can tell from the start that Ron McMillan has visited places similar to those he describes and possibly even sat in open bars on little Thai streets. I feel now that I have been there with him.

Mason & Dixie are an odd pairing but as you read through you can feel the connection they have and close bond they share. I think I would like to discover more about Dixie in future Mason & Dixie novels, I feel a depth to Mason and his background and hope to feel similarly about Dixie in the future.

The twists and turns keep you gripped throughout and violent thugs are a plenty. This is a definite recommendation to all those that enjoy a well detailed crime thriller.

I am looking forward to more from Ron and especially more 'Mason & Dixie' novels.
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on 27 December 2013
Having enjoyed Ron McMillan's first novel, Yin Yang Tattoo, this did not disappoint. This time the action's set in the Thai capital, and the author describes life in his adopted homeland with obvious authority and no little affection. Amidst the high-octane drama he finds time for some sharp observation of the seedier side to Bangkok, and the impact of the sex trade on it's victims. His trademark dark wit is also in evidence, no more so than when his native West of Scotland culture makes an appearance in the most unlikely of places. The plot cracks along at a rare pace, and in Mason & Dixie he has created characters that quickly win the reader's affections. Roll on the next instalment!
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on 19 December 2013
A great read set in possibly the most fascinating city in the world and McMillan takes us on a breathless tour of the steamy and seedy side of the city.
The heroes and sometimes, villains of the piece are Mason and Dixie. A great introduction to them and the city they live in.
I'm looking forward to the next instalments.
For me, this is a better read than Ron's first excellent thriller, The Yin Yang Tattoo and I highly recommend it.

Also see:
Between Weathers: Travels in 21st Century Shetland (Non-Fiction)
Yin Yang Tattoo (Sandstone Fiction)
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