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Eating Smoke: One Man's Descent into Drug Psychosis in Hong Kong's Triad Heartland Paperback – 20 Oct 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: MAVERICK HOUSE (20 Oct. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905379838
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905379835
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 3 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 473,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chris Thrall was born in the UK. At eighteen, he joined the Royal Marine Commandos. Following active service in the Northern Ireland Conflict and training in Arctic warfare and survival, he earned his parachutist's 'wings' and went on to serve as part of a high-security detachment onboard an aircraft carrier.

In 1995, Chris moved to Hong Kong to oversee the Asia-Pacific expansion of a successful network-marketing operation he'd built, part-time, while serving in the Forces. Less than a year later, he was homeless, hooked on crystal methamphetamine and working for the 14K, Hong Kong's largest triad crime family, as a doorman in Wanchai's infamous red-light district.

Eating Smoke, a humorous yet deeply moving first book, is his account of what happened . . .

Product Description

Review

Thrall uses such verve, enthusiasm and faultless comic timing that it is hard not to be swept along. --South China Morning Post

. . . fascinating . . . disturbing . . . memorable . . . Chris Thrall tells an enthralling and delusional story. --Cairns Media Magazine

. . . exemplary pacing, completely engaging tone, wealth of winning detail. Thrall uses such verve, enthusiasm and faultless comic timing that it is hard not to be swept along. --South China Morning Post

What else would you expect from a former Royal Marine Commando? Chris Thrall has a hell of a story to tell, and he does so with humour, candour and page-turning prose. --Tom Carter. CHINA: Portrait of a People

Book Description

Chris Thrall left the Royal Marines to find fortune in Hong Kong, but following a bizarre series of jobs ended up homeless and addicted to crystal methamphetamine.He began working for the 14K, one of Hong Kong’s notorious crime syndicates, as a nightclub doorman in the Wan Chai red-light district. Dealing with psychosis, conspiracy and the ‘foreign triad’ — a secretive expat clique that works hand-in-hand with the Chinese mafia — he had to survive in the world’s most unforgiving city, addicted to the world’s most dangerous drug . . .

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James Sheridan on 21 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was a bouncer in clubs in Hong Kong in the late 80s and early 90s so I was looking for a book that would take me back. “Eating Smoke” did that with a jolt, from the smells of Chunking Mansions to the early morning wet streets of Wan Chai surrounded by Triad Foot Soldiers.

There was an underworld that existed (and probably still does) that working in the night time economy you rubbed up against but of which the tourists and most of the expat community were neither part of or even aware was around them. The author here immersed himself totally in this underworld and frankly I am surprised that he survived his adventures intact. I am pleased that he did and this book of his real life story is an intriguing blend of his naivety and cussed likability through his self made tribulations in a very strange world.

Chris Thrall’s experiences in Eating Smoke were of its time just before the handover and I don’t know how relevant they would be today. This is not a book about unreal Triad Fights with choppers but it gives a glimpse of a lost Gweilo swimming around in the middle of the Hong Kong Chinese community and the sharks are circling.

If this was a TV programme I would be sitting on the sofa watching through gaps in my finger and muttering to myself – “No Chris, don’t do it!”

PS - I last visited Hong Kong in 2004 just after the SARs outbreak and most of the expat bars that I knew had closed or been turned into restauarants. I was most disappointed with Joe Bananas, which had turned into a girly bar and no longer did the 2 4 1 Cocktail nights - truly a lost institution.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Natalie Whitear on 11 May 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I found this book in a hotel room & once I started reading I couldn't stop. This book is a descriptive account of a mans attempts at making a new life in Hong Kong, unfortunately, and mostly due to the copious amounts of drugs, it doesn't quite go to plan. It gets a little dark in places, particularly chris' descent into madness but there are lots of characters and anecdotes along the way that put a smile on your face. Great book for those looking for something different.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By HongKongBritGirl on 5 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback
This is a fabulous book and I've recommended it to many people out here in HK. I couldn't put it down and my only complaint would be that I'm now desperate to know what happened when Chris touched down in LHR and how he is now!
Everyone linked to Hong Kong should read this.... I shall definitely be viewing Wanchai from a different angle as I go to work on Monday!
Well done Chris!!!!
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Format: Paperback
Chris Thrall left the marines to pursue dreams of making his fortune in Hong Kong, instead he ended up working for the triads and addicted to meth. After his business fails soon after arriving, Chris sets out to find a job which turns out to be one of many as he seems to gain and lose employment with enviable ease as most of the jobs go the same way as the business.
The book is written in an honest, open and at times hilarious manner, and I genuinely felt sympathy for him (though having seen what drugs can do first hand through both work and uni that really isn’t surprising). As Chris’ drug use spirals out of control his mental state deteriorates to the point that you start to question what did and didn’t happen; this did get confusing for me but that might have also been due to me reading the ebook version and skipping backwards and forwards to re-read pages isn’t easy.
My only criticism of this book is the ending which was sudden and felt a little anti-climactic. After finishing the book I couldn't think of much else for days.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Felix the Cat on 6 April 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Fascinating journey into a parallel world in Hong kong. The author has a finely tuned insight into this collectivist culture moe fascinating and interesting than any cultural anthropologist's academic report. Not only do we find out about the social and cultural differences we are also subject to Thrall's nightmarish journey into addiction and paranoia which conjures up visions of Spirited Away .This author gets under your skin . Comparable to Shantaram but much better.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mark Time on 2 Sept. 2014
Format: Paperback
400 pages - 2 sittings - 1 fantastic book

Drug issues connected with the military may seem an uncomfortable subject to cover, but that is exactly why you should read 'Eating Smoke'.

From socially honourable beginnings, the story shows no matter how disciplined, well trained or revered, the human psyche can metamorphose into something we fear and crave at the same time - a true conduit between culture and counter culture.

The story unravels like the protagonist's mind, showering the reader with shards of cutting wit, amusing metaphor, similes and asides all the while drawing you in so far to think that the drugs he takes are actually worthy of consideration as a personal pastime.

If Alex Garland and Irvine Welsh had a baby... they would name him Chris Thrall.

A modern classic in the making...
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By P. Convery on 12 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I discovered Eating Smoke by chance really, after playing Sleeping Dogs I was left with the feeling that I needed to do some more research into Hong Kong and went searching for some books and films that covered the same sort of subject. After doing some searching, Eating Smoke seemed to be one of the few books that would let me explore Hong Kong a bit further, and being intrigued by the description I decided to take a punt on it. I couldn't be happier about that decision!

The story Chris Thrall tell's about his time in Hong Kong might not be one for the faint hearted, but it is wonderfully written piece (which is a real credit to Chris as I believe this was his first book?) that is paced really well, and surprisingly given the subject matter is rather humorous. The book really does read like a wild adventure story, taken you from Chris's time in the Royal Marines and his attempts to make in big in the business world, only to find those dreams shattered when he moves to Hong Kong. What follows as you read about the eclectic mix of jobs he goes through in quick succession can only be described as crazy adventure, and all the time you are getting steadily more attached to Chris Thrall as you watch his life spiral out of control as his drug use steadily gets worse and he starts to loss grip on reality.

The story isn't just about Chris though, it involves an amazing bunch of characters he meets along the way during his time in Hong Kong, between business partners, drug dealing friends, homeless people, Triad doormen, exotic women and fat women singing karaoke. But are they all involved in the grand conspiracy to get crazy "gweilo"? What did Chris do to harm these people? Or is it just all in his head?
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