I can distinctly remember picking up Bangkok 8 on a lark back at the Stanford campus bookstore during the 2003 Summer Session. There it sat, enticing me with the promise of exotic mystery in faraway lands. When I devoured it soon after (nothing like a good mystery during a summer day of leisure), I eagerly awaited the next time I’d encounter Sonchai Jitpleecheep, a Royal Thai Policeman operating in the District 8.
Sad to say, Sonchai has changed. Our narrator can’t resist taking a multitude of jabs at us farang (foreigners) and our materialistic, puritanical, soulless, and hypocritical culture. This could just be Burdett estimating what attitudes are like over in Thailand at the moment, but one gets the sense that he’s putting words in Sonchai’s mouth. I’ll be the first to admit that this stridency can get to be a little irritating.
Other than that, I’ve few complaints. Like the first novel, Bangkok Tattoo is positively drenched with atmosphere. Seeing as it takes place in District 8, the underbelly of a already slightly seedy place, one has to be prepared for all sorts of shady characters and bizarre events. The graphic parts can be a little off putting, but, hey, this is a murder mystery after all. And another good summer read, to boot.