I wanted to read this book for a very long while. Might be ever since I figured out Asia is so much more interesting than Europe. Or America, for that matter. I regret slightly that I’ve not read “Bangkok 8” by John Burdett (Sonchai Jitpleecheep 1; ISBN13 9789955235439; 375p.; Goodreads) a little earlier, since this was one amazing book. The characters, the story. It was nothing I expected, and I love it.
Thailand. Third World occult beliefs, religion, charm, and beauty. It might be hard for a westerner to understand, and that might be one of the great reasons why so many of them lose their hearts here, having to return time and again, just to reconnect. It is definitely hard for FBI to grasp it, not when Sonchai tells them straight: he’ll kill whoever had his soul brother killed, there will be no trial. What do they know of these delicate matters of heart even Buddha would forgive? They went there, to the crime scene, to investigate traffic, commotion. Just to find a raving black giant in a bolted car full of expertly drugged, raging snakes killing him, consuming him. Sonchai’s partner did his best to save the man, but in the end, they both died, leaving Sonchai alone, and oh so very broken. Fatalism, as in many Thai’s, was in his blood, and destruction is always at hand in this throbbing heart of a city. Yet his duty didn’t let him go too far.
FBI had no right to follow an investigation in Thailand, so Sonchai was requested to assist detective Jones on this, in mutual exchange of information. They taught each other as things progressed, and learned to work together, as odd as it felt for both of them. In the end, they found many strings, all leading towards jade and this mysterious goddess-like woman whom no one knows. Yet, as alien as she is, could she really have killed the man like that? What sort of rage had to be consuming the killer to put anyone through this kind of horror?
This was one of the most unique thrillers I have ever read, and I loved every page of it. Characters felt natural, human. Sonchai was unique and wonderful. Jones was strong, with her own opinion, her own actions. There wasn’t much predictability, and if you could predict something, there was likely a surprise hidden in it anyway. I can give it a firm 5 out of 5, for this surely has to go to my favorites.