From Publishers Weekly
Drawing on his Vietnam experience and on his 17 years in Asia, Barrett (Memoirs of a Bangkok Warrior) has tried to create a novel of one man's midlife crisis, an adventure story, a exploration of Thailand's exotic delights and an inquiry into the aftermath of the Vietnam War. But the narrative collapses amid conflicting goals and unexamined stereotypes. The hero of sorts is divorced, middle-aged New York editor Brian Mason, once an army linguist in Vietnam, where his brother Paul (he believes) died in combat. Brian receives a vague, importunate letter from Paul's Thai widow, Suntharee, urging him to visit Thailand and help her with an unspecified problem. Brian, who was once in love with Suntharee himself, uses a business trip to the Orient as an excuse to meet Suntharee. After they tour the ruins at Ayudhya, they make love, though Brian is disturbed to discover that the real author of that letter was not Suntharee but her troubled, estranged daughter, Nalin, a former art student working as a go-go-dancer/stripper at the Horny Tiger bar in Bangkok. Nalin calls him "Uncle Brian"; he dubs her "Little Tadpole." Soon they're sleeping together, too. Then Brian falls in with seedily menacing expatriate conspirators, some of whom may have engineered his brother's murder 20 years ago. A subtext about the attractiveness of submissive Oriental women colors Brian's feelings toward Nalin: "He found her allure most compelling when she dressed in traditional Thai dress and wore no makeup; when she seemed to look and act and think more like a traditional Thai." She, and other Bangkok beauties, seem to him "impossibly exotic." When Brian's search for romance and his search for his brother come together in the hunt for an opium warlord, the story loses its credibility in a clumsy authorial revelation. (July)
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An exciting thriller...A gripping mystery documenting Dean Barrett as a writer in full possession of his craft. -- Midwest Book Review 2000
Barrett is a powerful storyteller who has a feeling for language that's lacking in many contemporary novels. -- Laughing Bear Newsletter, 2000
Barrett spins a tightly packed tale, part murder mystery, part love story with seductive Thaland in a leading role. -- Today's Librarian 2000
Kingdom of Make-Believe captures a slice of Thailand as it really is--and was. -- Denis Gray, Chief of Bureau, AP, Bangkok
Sharp, often poetic and pleasantly twisted...tautly written...compelling...a very considerable writing talent. -- January magazine, 2000