I really didn’t feel like reading anything, so I picked up second book in John Burdett series Sonchai Jitpleecheep, “Bangkok Tattoo” (Sonchai Jitpleecheep 2; ISBN 1400032911; 320p.; Goodreads). I loved the first one phenomenally. But this one just didn’t feel right. In fact, it felt normal, like many other thriller detectives. For, somehow, the characters lost their characters.
A CIA agent is killed and mutilated in a room of a bar girl. They had a one-sided love history and a romance, with kind enough parting between them. And Chanya just doesn’t seem to have a heart for such a violent act, even if circumstances seem to point at her. Yet due to him being an American CIA agent in Bangkok, and this world being set just after the tragic 9/11 terrorist attack, there’s a chance that if there’s any of those evil group members around – they wouldn’t have missed a chance either. But forwards come the Muslim community, prepared to do whatever it takes, whatever means necessary, to keep this blame off of them: it’d destroy the solid community out here. So Sonchai does what Sonchai does better, he picks up whatever strings are left for him, and heads out to see what tangles he can rustle up. What could get a man like that killed anyway?
Apparently, a tattoo. And it might just not be over. Out there, in the dark underground, a good classic / traditional tattoo artist is valued, and so are their works. To the point where murdering and skinning is almost a norm, for owning a piece is a sign of status. The agent had one. And so does Chanya. Yet she’s still alive.
In some dumb sense, Sonchai got too simple for my liking. He lost his fatalistic self, settling down, calming down. And since he’s the one telling the story, and he’s the main hero in it too, it hits the whole tale quality over the head. I can’t give it more than 3 out of 5, but I’m also not ready to give up on the series just yet.