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Bangkok Eight [Paperback]

John Burdett
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

4 July 2006

In surreal Bangkok, city of temples and brothels, where Buddhist monks in saffron robes walk the same streets as world-class gangsters, a US marine sergeant is killed inside a locked Mercedes by a maddened python and a swarm of cobras. Two policemen - the only two in the city not on the take - arrive too late. Minutes later, only one is alive.

The cop left standing, Sonchai Jitpleecheep, is a devout Buddhist and swears to avenge the death of his partner and soul brother. To do so he must use the forensic techniques of the modern policing and his own profound understanding of the mystical workings of the spirit world.Both will be vital as he immerses himself in the moneyed underbelly of Bangkok - where desire rules and where he will eventually find the killer, a predator of an even more sinister variety...

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Bangkok Eight + Bangkok Tattoo (Sonchai Jitpleecheep 2) + The Godfather of Kathmandu (Sonchai Jitpleecheep 4)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Corgi (4 July 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552154695
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552154697
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 10.6 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 248,027 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, --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"'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'" (

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Summer Thriller 2 Sep 2003
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning work of fiction 27 Aug 2003
This is the first of the author's books I've read, and it won't be the last. As they say, the book 'gets under the skin' of Thailand, and anyone who's been to Bangkok will recognise how superbly John Burdett has captured the spirit, the very essence, of the city.
More than a straightforward detective novel, Bangkok 8 gives us a deep insight into the spiritual side of Thailand and its people. The complications of adding Buddhism to mass tourism (some of it highly questionable in motive) is handled expertly, and anyone interested in Thailand would learn more about the country and its people from reading this book than from studying several editions of the 'Lonely Planet' guide.
A truly un-put-downable novel, fascinating and multi-layered, this is one of the two best novels I've read in the past few years. Perhaps the best - it narrowly beats 'God is a Bullet'.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take me away to Bangkok 20 Aug 2004
By A Customer
I don't know if the Bangkok in Bangkok 8 is the real city, but I bought it. This is a fascinating book full of magic and it all sounds absolutely true and believable. Practically the least important thing is the murder and the investigation. The stars are the city and the astoundingly interesting and sympathetic detective.
Burdett doesn't paint a pretty picture like a tourist brochure, but depicts a profoundly spiritual and sexual city where everyone is on the take and no one takes exception to that. Even our ascetic Buddhist detective, who is snowy clean for a Thai cop, doesn't care who else gets bribed as long as he can trace it and the power so engendered and thus find his way toward avenging the death of his soul brother.
I found the ending a bit tidy, but in the end I was sorry for the book to end.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhere different 9 July 2011
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bangkok - Stunning and Different 31 July 2003
By Troni
With Carl Hiaasen and James Ellroy both touting the book as something really good, I had to buy it and more than glad that I did. It was my favourite holiday read and I want more of this quality of writing on the book shelves now! (Also read on hols James Lee Burke's "White Doves in the Morning" - exquisite).
John Burdett has written a book in the "who dunnit" genre, but has somehow managed to elevate it from the ordinary/mundane, cops and robbers novel. Buddhism, spirituality and the Bangkok sex industry are intertwined in a story that leaves you feeling that you've been there, lived the life and learned something. I am now fascinated by jade (you'll have to read to know what I mean). Bangkok is a stunning book,(hence the title of the review). I cannot recommend it enough. John Burdett has just become one of my favourite writers and I intend to read everything that he has written. Pls keep on writing Mr Burdett.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read.
An excellent book that really gives you the feel of being in Bangkok. I have visited Bangkok many times, and read this book on many occasions, usually just before another visit to... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Les Robinson
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful account of Thailand but a little far-fetched
John Burdett does an excellent job in describing Thailand, the culture, the corruption etc. With regards to the actual plot, I found it far-fetched and the ending was... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Matt
I won't give anything away regarding the plot of this book. Suffice to say, it is a superbly well-written novel, which brings the extremes of wealth and povery in neon lit, sleazy... Read more
Published 8 months ago by JM
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark and exotic thriller
Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep is an unusual and lonely member of the Bangkok police. His mixed-race ancestry and familiarity with English and with Western culture make him an... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Iain S. Palin
4.0 out of 5 stars Must read
Great characters and a refreshingly intriguing plot. This is the second Burdett book that I have read and I am definitely a fan. Read more
Published 11 months ago by edmundhonda
4.0 out of 5 stars An unusual read
He has a good style and interesting characters. The oriental background to the story adds alot of interest.A good read
Published 13 months ago by reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
such a great read, I love all of John Burdett's books since I found them a few weks ago.
Published 13 months ago by Tseringma
2.0 out of 5 stars Limps to a finish
I have just been to Bangkok and read this whilst I was there. Initially the plot is gripping and at half way I was hooked. Read more
Published on 3 April 2012 by AJH
2.0 out of 5 stars Half way, can't go any further
Really wanted to like this book, as it's one of a selection of books recommended in the back of the Rough Guide to Thailand which I thought I'd read before I go to Thailand in July... Read more
Published on 8 Nov 2011 by Manda Moo
5.0 out of 5 stars Blue guide to Bangkok
Enjoyable romp through Bangkok's seedier quarters. The author easily rivals Martin Cruz Smith, who's close to him in style. Read more
Published on 8 Oct 2011 by John Coffey
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