John Burdett

Former lawyer and private detective John Burdett's series centred around Sonchai Jitpleecheep, the leuk krung (half-caste) son of a American GI serving in Vietnam and a Thai prostitute might seem like another one in the crime fiction in exotic locales bag (a la the Colin Cotterill Dr Siri investigations) there's a harder edge in evidence to go with the wry humour and bizarre murders. I won't be actively seeking the other titles out, but if I run across one there's a fair chance I'll borrow it.


  • Bangkok Haunts (2007), where Detective Sonchai receives what appears to be a snuff movie, sent from an anonymous source, through the post. The victim on the DVD is Damrong, a a prostitute who worked in the brothel run by Sonchai's mother, made Sonchai fall obsessively in love with her and moved on to work in the most exclusive men's club in Bangkok.

While Sonchai wants to investigate the matter, Colonel Vikorn wants to become involved with Bangkok's porn industry, producing high-quality films to be shown in hotel chains directed by a Japanese auteur with a death-wish, and while Vikorn would like Sonchai to focus on porn, the trail to Damrong's killer leads Sonchai the heart of a conspiracy and the Issan jungle setting where she was born that becomes the scene for a horrific method of execution involving elephants and a hollow man-sized balls of bamboo. 

  • The Godfather of Kathmandu (2010), where an American film director turns up disemboweled and dead in a Bangkok flophouse, a death that needs to be investigated while Jitpleecheep, newly appointed as boss Col. Vikorn's consigliere (he’s just watched The Godfather on DVD), arranges a major drug deal, deals with a personal tragedy, and becomes involved with a Tantric sex goddess in Kathmandu while negotiating the drug deal with an exiled Tibetan lama who becomes his guru while planning to invade China. 

Other titles:

A Personal History of Thirst (1996)

The Last Six Million Seconds (1997)

Sonchai Jitpleecheep Series:

Bangkok 8: A Novel (2003)

Bangkok Tattoo (2006)

Vulture Peak (2012) 

© Ian Hughes 2012