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Bangkok, rich in history and spirituality, crowded with temples, markets and canals, is also a city shrouded in shadows. Polluted, corrupt, infamous as the sex capital of the world, it is a place where wealth, poverty and unimaginable evil walk hand in hand.
In District 8, the underbelly of Bangkok's crime world, a dramatically mutilated body is found in a hotel bedroom. It looks bad: the corpse - who's been flayed - is CIA. And it gets worse when the self-confessed murderer is the beautiful Chanya - the best 'working girl' at The Old Man's Club, a brothel owned jointly by Sonchai's mother and his boss, Police Colonel Vikorn. Alerted by Sonchai, Vikorn quickly concocts a cover-up that involves an Al-Qaeda terrorist cell located in a southern Thai border-town where, since 9/11, the CIA has also had a covert presence.
So far so good: but the truth will be harder to come by, and it will require Sonchai to find an ever more delicate balance between his ambition (western) and his Buddhism (eastern), while he runs the gamut of Bangkok's drug-dealers, prostitutes, bad cops, even worse military generals, and the pitfalls of his own melting heart.
Crowded with astonishing characters, redolent with the authentic, hallucinogenic atmosphere of Bangkok, with needle-sharp observations about the clash of cultures when East meets West, this is a literary thriller like no other.
In Burdett's brilliantly cynical mystery thriller, the follow-up to Bangkok 8 (2004), Royal Thai police detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep is called in by his supervisor, hard-bitten Captain Vikorn, to investigate the murder of a CIA operative, Mitch Turner, found disemboweled and mutilated. The prime suspect is a beautiful bar girl, Chanya, with whom Sonchai believes himself to be in love. When Turner's murder turns out to be far more complicated than originally thought, Sonchai must deal with his boss's rages and Chanya's gradually revealed secrets, along with CIA agents who have come to investigate the crime, a Thai army general with whom Vikorn has been feuding for years, Yakuza gangsters, Japanese tattooists, Muslim fundamentalists and more. Thoroughly familiar with Thailand, Burdett does an impressive job of depicting an often romanticized society from the inside out. His characters are unforgettable, his dialogue fast-paced and perfectly pitched, his numerous asides and observations generally as cutting as they are funny.