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Eating Smoke: One Man's Descent into Drug Psychosis in Hong Kong's Triad Heartland [Paperback]

Chris Thrall
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 20 Oct 2011 --  

Book Description

20 Oct 2011

Chris Thrall left the Royal Marines to find fortune in Hong Kong, but following a bizarre series of jobs ended up homeless and in psychosis from crystal meth.

He began working for the 14K, a notorious crime syndicate, as a nightclub doorman in the Wan Chai red-light district, where he uncovered a vast global conspiracy and the 'Foreign Triad' - a secretive expat clique in cahoots with the Chinese gangs.

Alone and confused in the neon glare of Hong Kong's seedy backstreets, Chris was forced to survive in the world's most unforgiving city, hooked on the world's most dangerous drug.

Engaging, honest and full of Chris's irrepressible humour, this remarkable memoir combines gripping storytelling with brooding menace as the Triads begin to cast their shadow over him. The result is a truly psychotic urban nightmare.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: MAVERICK HOUSE (20 Oct 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905379838
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905379835
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 385,446 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fell in my lap, couldn't put it down 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! Bloody brilliant! 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable memoir! 7 Aug 2014
Format:Paperback
Christ Thrall writes with vivid imagery and has a delectable way with words. In "Eating Smoke...", he describes his 13-month plunge into the depths of psychosis and drug abuse. This memoir succeeds in conjuring up the intensity and chaos of Hong Kong and reveals the masterminds of Hong Kong's underworld, rife with people acting above the law. We are introduced to a number of very colorful, seedy, and deceptive characters, some of whom have learned to exploit the flaws of human nature to get their way with each other.

The events in this mesmerizing book bring to mind psychological horrors of nightmares, only these events were real and not imagined or dreamed up. The only way to escape the nightmare is to "wake up" from the dream, and, fortunately for Chris Thrall, he had caring family back home in England to lift him up from his hellish existence in Hong Kong's underworld.

Chris Thrall retains his sense of humor, humility, and humanity in spite of his tribulations. I would not wish on anyone the turmoils of his chaotic existence in Hong Kong, but, fortunately for his readers, Chris Thrall survived his ordeals and came out a better human being for living this hell.

"Eating Smoke" is a unique book, and, as unique books go, I have not encountered another quite like it. I look forward to reading more books by the author.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read with your fingers over your eyes. 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing story of a mans addiction 30 Oct 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Story was well written , a cautionary tale about a mans descent into drug addiction in Hong Kong, very brave of Chris Thrall too write this book
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An eyeopening into people's lives. 16 Feb 2013
By T.Rose
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am enjoying this book, it is real, honest and an eye opener and makes me realise that life for me is not so bad, some people really go through hard times and thankfully some come through it. A friend recomended this book and I have done the same.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling yet obscure 9 Jan 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
When I picked this book up, I really knew I would enjoy it. A fantastic and in-depth 70% of the book, taking the reader on a deep mind blowing tour off the HK backstreets and culture.
What I struggle to get to grips with is how a man who losses his mind from taking so much drugs and sleep deprivation can remember anything that happened. Yet he tells it all so accurate, surely only half this story can be true if he were that messed up.
Never the less, an exciting, knowledgeable and recommended read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Human Stench of the Fragrant Harbour
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... Read more
Published 2 hours ago by Mark Time
5.0 out of 5 stars this did get confusing for me but that might have also been due to me...
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. Read more
Published 4 days ago by F Carty
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read. I love HK myself and Chris's descriptions ...
Great read. I love HK myself and Chris's descriptions were so vivid I felt like I was walking around the beautiful backstreets of that Fragrant Harbour. Read more
Published 5 days ago by MJ Melly Melz
5.0 out of 5 stars great story
Great story and its a true story started reading and didn't want to put it down realy gets you hooked well done Chris when are you writing the next one
Published 14 days ago by tina newman
5.0 out of 5 stars this is one of the books I recommend to anyone interested
I was never one to read too many books, usually just on holidays I found the time to really sit down. That all changed in after reading Eating Smoke. Read more
Published 14 days ago by richard gallagher
5.0 out of 5 stars Physically (& psychically) scrambling higher than high atop Hong Kongs...
Physically (& psychically) scrambling higher than high atop Hong Kongs highrise skyscape. Willfully balancing on the very edge of reality. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Miss Sian
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind-blowing read.
This is one of the most amazing books that i have read. The author has that rare ability to allow you into his experience - it feels as if it is happening to you. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Rebecca Guy-Bauer
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling from Thrall
Absolutely fantastic read; a real window into both Hong Kong in the 90s and the mindset of an addicted person who is also a good man hopelessly lost on foreign soil. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Joseph Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read!
This book is a real eye opener into the Hong Kong underworld and how easy it is for a normal guy to fall into it! Read more
Published 17 days ago by James Sullivan
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply a Great Read
In a market place full of stories told by old soldiers, most of whom are blowing their won trumpets, this book is a welcome and long overdue breath of fresh air. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Patrick Burke
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