The Bangkok Asset: A novel

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John Burdett has been writing about his half-Thai, half-American Buddhist homicide detective, Sonchai Jitpleecheep, since 2003. Sonchai is the son of a former Bangkok bar girl and an American Vietnam War soldier that he’s never met.

In The Bangkok Asset, Burdett’s sixth and newest crime novel, we find Sonchai at the scene of a particularly gruesome crime: A schoolgirl has been decapitated, and as implausible as it seems, it appears that her killer removed her head with his bare hands. What’s more, on a mirror in the same room, someone has written in blood, “Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep, I know who [smudge] father is.”

Soon after, Sonchai and a female inspector named Krom are called to witness a demonstration in the middle of a horrific rainstorm. What they watch the deadly performance of a man with apparently superhuman strength. The superhuman is in fact an “enhanced’ human, created by the Chinese and Russians in an effort led by the CIA.

And, before the night is through, Sonchai and Krom watch through the storm as two men each throw a woman to her death.

In a weird and creepy and sometimes convoluted work, Burdett weaves the crimes and plots together, and the reader is carried along, rushing from one page to the next.

In an interview published in South China Morning Post, Burdett said, “People are so stressed, you really do have to find ways of nailing them to their chairs with a compelling story.” This reader certainly felt nailed to the chair—not just by the complicated plot, but also by the evocation of Bangkok and some of its eight million people. Opening the book is like walking into a movie set: You hear the buzz of the city, feel the congestion and traffic jams, smell the tantalizing aromas of street food. And you root for Sonchai’s and Krom’s success.


Reviewed By:

Author John Burdett
Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 320 pages
Publisher Knopf
Publish Date 2015-Aug-04
ISBN 9780307272683
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue December 2015
Category Modern Literature
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