Bangkok 8: A Book Review
Have you ever watched a Thai ping-pong show?
“We didn’t want to go, at first,” two young English women told me, “but then we decided it was better to support local jobs.” Both giggled, whether at the ingenuity of this comment, or the concept of women paid to shoot plastic balls out of their nether parts, I do not know.
The stereotypes of Thailand – its sex industry, cross-ethnic match-making and lurid underworld – are elements of the country that trouble every traveler. Do we embrace, accept or abhor?
This is the conflicting scene that Burdett skillfully addresses in his nonfiction mystery, Bangkok 8.
When the murder of a U.S. Marine inadvertently leads to the death of Sonchai’s police partner, his search for vengeance will lead him to question the blend and clash of Western and Eastern influences ruling the city. Sonchai, a detective with the training of a Buddhist monk, explores backstreets and conundrums, eventually connecting his spirituality to a new understanding of the red light culture.
Burdett’s novel will resonate with anyone who has spent more than 24 hours in this florescent, obnoxious, surprising, overwhelming urban sprawl. Bangkok is a thousand things, and only a resident, like Burdett, could attempt to capture the sounds, colors and complexities that characterize it.