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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Your Basic Police Story
Book 1 in Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep series

This is a police story that stands above many mysteries I have read lately. Although at first glace it seems to rehash the basics found in other books, it was a pleasant surprise to find otherwise.

The story revolves around a police detective investigating a murder that claimed his partner's life and...
Published on June 24 2010 by Toni Osborne

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars A strong city, a weak cast
I picked this up when I saw that the blurbs on the back cover came from my two favorite crimes writers, Carl Hiaasen and James Ellroy. I suppose I was hoping for great things, either Hiaasen's light hand, or Ellroy's dark tales of intrigue. However, when a character takes a deep breath and delivers a one to three page sermon on, amongst other things, jade, prostitution...
Published on April 14 2004 by Newton Munnow


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4.0 out of 5 stars Thai Noir, Private Eye, Aug. 31 2003
By 
Robert Carlberg (Seattle) - See all my reviews
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This is at heart a fairly typical noir detective story, but it takes place in Bangkok with all of the exotica, erotica and culturally-foreign references that infers. Some of the backgrounds in Thai brothels may be a bit sleazy for some readers, but the insight into the "magical realism" of Buddhist thought I found fascinating.
The book introduces a few too many unexpected plot twists in the later chapters, some of which strain credulity, but these did not outweigh the supreme joy of discovery in the first half.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding Thriller, Aug. 22 2003
By 
Victoria I. Adams "Cymgal" (Vienna, VA USA) - See all my reviews
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A tremendous book. Great insights into Thai culture and the problem that east and west have in understanding each other. Very interesting insights into the sex industry in Thailand and the role that it plays in Thai national psyche.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as anticipated, Aug. 20 2003
I do not normally buy hardbacks, and would recommend anyone thinking about purchasing this book, wait for the paperback version. Or better yet, get it from the library. The book had a very weak ending, and was well too.......you'll understand if and when you read it. A real dissappointment.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bangkok Unravelled, Aug. 11 2003
By A Customer
At first, I thought Burdett was patronizing the reader. I thought the short chapters and the sprinkling of Buddhist refrences were an attempt to attract the attention of unsophisticated readers totally unfamiliar with the East. As the book went on, it spiralled deeper and deeper, like unwrapping an onion. The ending was quite a surprise and I read the last fourth of the book in one setting. He took us into a new world of mysticism and sexuality.
Still, I was left feeling that something was missing, that he only put half of his cultural cards on the table. I am eagerly waiting for a deeper trip into in this same genre from Burdett. We can take it, John.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Learn About Bangkok, Aug. 11 2003
By 
Carl F. Mclaren Jr. (Haines City, Florida USA) - See all my reviews
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I just want to say two things (1) I had no problems with the end of the book, in fact I liked it.(2) Most mysteries I like take place in an unusual or historical setting, that way you not only get a mystery but you learn something as well. I knew little about Bangkok and was therefore intrigued by the concept. The author is a very good writer and this book deserves a wide audience, it is the best book I've read since The Da Vinci Code.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hard-to-put-down Mystery in an Exotic Locale, Aug. 6 2003
By 
Karl A. Schmieder "panamakarl" (brooklyn, ny USA) - See all my reviews
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This book has it all: a Buddhist detective who depends on his intuition to solve a ghastly murder; corrupt cops; the American FBI; lots of prostitutes; and, an on-the-ground look at a Third World Cityï¿s chaos. Youï¿ll get a glimpse of Thai culture, a critique of the West and more than a few laughs. A well-plotted mystery that is hard to put down. I recommend it if youï¿re interested in foreign cultures and excellent writing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Exotic Banquet of a Book, Aug. 1 2003
By 
Bookreporter (New York, New York) - See all my reviews
John Burdett's BANGKOK 8 is an exotic murder mystery wrapped in what amounts to a detailed and riveting character study of a city at the intersection of the old world and the new. Burdett's Bangkok is a place where Thai culture and American culture meet like two rivers in a great, chaotic swirl.
The title refers to a police district in the teeming city, the territory of police detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep. Sonchai is the son of an unidentified American GI and a Bangkok [street walker].
As the story opens, Sonchai and Pichai Apiradee, his childhood friend and police partner, are assigned without explanation to follow William Bradley, an American Marine sergeant. They lose track of Bradley's Mercedes, but pick up the trail not long after, only to find him dead in the back seat, wrapped in the deadly embrace of a seventeen-foot python. When Pichai opens the car door to investigate, he is attacked by one of several dozen small but highly venomous cobras, and dies on the spot. In the aftermath, the grieving Sonchai quietly and serenely swears vengeance on those responsible for his friend's death.
Sonchai is as fascinating a character as you are likely to find in fiction. A gentle and devout Buddhist, he lives in near poverty. But as a youth, thanks to his mother's talent and business savvy as a prostitute, a series of wealthy and sophisticated European johns provided Sonchai with an education in Western culture --- as experienced by those with great wealth and great connections. Sonchai's Buddhist beliefs and essential Thai mindset keep his Western influences --- particularly a fondness for Italian clothing designers --- in check. Sonchai has James Bond's sophistication, but a pauper's budget.
As protagonist in this remarkably rich and detailed story, Sonchai serves as the personification of the modern day city of Bangkok. The story is told from Sonchai's distinctly Thai perspective, a technique that works to great effect in portraying the American characters, particularly FBI agent Kimberly Jones, as fish out of water, struggling to understand the complexities, contradictions, and ironies of Thai culture.
Sonchai steadfastly refuses to take part in the [crime]and influence peddling that define Burdett's Bangkok. But this [crime]has evolved as a solution to the city's many social and economic woes. Police [crime] is seen simply as the status quo, a system that has practical benefits: the cops on the take never complain about miniscule salaries, which in turn makes tax increases unnecessary. The upper echelon officers of the police department --- the big money guys --- regularly donate a portion of their take to charities and are also careful to distribute their wealth on the street to build networks of popular support.
Where the Thais accept [crime] and bribery as a fact of life, the Americans in this story (and let's face it, in real life) say one thing and do another. They profess astonishment at the level and sheer visibility of the [crime] in Bangkok, while telling Sonchai that his investigation of the murders of Bradley and Pichai must steer clear of a wealthy and well-connected American businessman with an interest in jade and a taste for [criminal] violence.
Burdett weaves flashbacks of Sonchai's youth into a powerful narrative that delivers the sensual and meteorological heat of Bangkok at a measured yet unrelenting pace. It is a place of mystery and mysticism, of [physical contact] and spirituality, of life and death, and of revenge and rebirth. Burdett's prose is rich in metaphor, sly wit and insight, and he has written an exotic banquet of a book.
If your midsummer travel plans extend no further than your patio, porch, fire escape or sofa, you'll do well to venture into the pages of BANGKOK 8. It ain't Kansas, Toto, and you may not want to send your mother the snapshots, but you're going to have a very good time.
--- Reviewed by Bob Rhubart
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3.0 out of 5 stars Great setting, great main character, great world, July 26 2003
By 
Roger Angle (Culver City, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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Actually, there are worlds within worlds in this mystery-thriller: Thailand, and inside that Bangkok, and inside that the skin trade, and then there is the Royal Thai Police Force and the Buddhist philosophy. All this is brought to bear on a killing that is over-the-top unbelievable. The Thai Buddhist take on the American psyche is the most memorable thing. The characters are intriguing and well fleshed out. Overall, it is fascinating and a good ride. But the writing is clunky and the syntax strained at times. And the ending is way too convoluted and very unsatisfying. A near miss. Almost a great thriller. Worth a look, though.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Jonathan Yardley is right on about about Bangkok 8 !!, July 25 2003
By 
Kenneth C. Mahieu (McLean, VA USA) - See all my reviews
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Mr. Yardley, book critic for the Washington Post, does not often review books that I might have any interest in - and when he does the review is rarely a positive one. So I was surprised and delighted to see a very favorable review for John Burdett's novel, Bangkok 8. The title comes from the name of a police district in which our hero works. While drugs and sex and some very good plot twists are major ingredients of the story, what sets this book apart are the characters, Buddhism, Bangkok, a murder that I had to reread at least three times, and some sex that doesn't happen. What has stayed with me a week after I have read this book is Bangkok itself, a city I have never visited, but one that now both fascinates me and feels familiar to me. Perhaps with a different ending I would have rated this a "5", but it did not detract significantly from the pleasure this book gave me. One tip to potential readers who may be on the fence - read the first chapter (2 pages) - it gives an excellent flavor of what is to come, and I expect that most will be hooked, as I was.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Spot on the three pillars of Asia!, July 21 2003
By 
lawrence mccafferty (Puerto Princesa City, Palawan Philippines) - See all my reviews
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Wow! I just finished B-Eight and loved it. I live in the Philippines and saw Asia in almost every page. The boy has lived here and knows what's going on. The three pillars, of course, are drugs, prostitution, and corruption. I thought his insights were quite clever, and he's researched Jade, transexual surgery, and Buddhism quite deeply as well. I marked off one star because the story became a "stretch" toward the end (I'm a doctor) and some of this characters just couldn't speak the way they did in the story. But, hey, write up some more John-boy, I'm one of your fans!
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Bangkok 8: A Royal Thai Detective Novel (1)
Bangkok 8: A Royal Thai Detective Novel (1) by John Burdett (Paperback - July 13 2004)
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