Knopf, Jun 2003, 24.00, 318 pp.
In Bangkok the corpse of African-American US Marine William Bradley is found in his Mercedes along with cobras and a giant python. Not long afterward, the partner of Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep is also found dead in a similar manner.
Because he speaks English, “half-caste Third World” Detective Sonchai is assigned to investigate primarily the marine murder. However, he knows the hidden message that he must work closely with the Americans, which means don't let the facts interfere with the prime objective not to annoy the Yankee authorities. Sonchai escorts FBI agent Kimberley Jones through the nastiest part of town in quest of Bradley's female companion. As they inch closer to locating the missing woman, the half American Sonchai (unknown Yankee father) finds the Fed he is working with quite attractive, but his Buddhist beliefs keep him from crossing a line more dangerous than being stuck inside a car with deadly snakes as companions.
BANGKOK 8 is a refreshing police procedural due to the unique lead protagonist. The who-done-it is well written though the climax seems a bit forced and rushed. The insight into Buddhism is brilliantly interwoven into the tale so that the audience gains depths of knowledge that never slows down the story line. Also cleverly interlaced inside the investigation is a deep look at sex practices. The tale belongs to Sonchai, a vulnerable fatalist with an inner strength and self-deprecating humor that makes him an incredible character that hopefully has many future lives.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner