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Book Review

Book Review: Confessions of a Bangkok Private Eye

by Lang Reid

Hot off the press in Singapore comes Confessions of a Bangkok Private Eye (ISBN 981-05-4832-X, Monsoon Books) written by an ex-Bangkok PI named Warren Olson. However, the blurb that came with the book from the publishers stated that Stephen Leather (Cold Kill reviewed recently, Private Dancer reviewed last year) came on board to fictionalize the case histories and “inject with a wicked sense of humor”. In the meantime author Olson has apparently returned to his native New Zealand.
The book is a series of case histories (around 25 in all, but I gave up counting) recounting Olson’s cases while he was in Bangkok for almost a decade, having re-invented himself as a private detective. Prior to this he had been a horse-trader (sorry, horse trainer) in New Zealand, and not averse to swinging the odds in his (horse’s) direction with a well administered injection or two. However, this did not come as a great shock, as I have always found that the horse racing industry was more than slightly tainted. I am sure there are honest people in the game, I just haven’t found him yet.
The vast majority of the cases involve foreigners wanting their girlfriends found, followed or fricasseed. This Olson does, papering his way into official details by the usual under the table methods. He claims to be sorry for the client, knowing before he begins just what he is likely to find. If it’s infidelity, Olson was your man, even to sleeping with the errant girlfriend to prove just how untrustworthy some of these Thai girls can be. And incidentally, just how untrustworthy some of the ethical private investigators can be.
Some of the cases are true scams, such as girls who are locked up at the airport and need 150,000 baht to get out, but most are just examples of the usual avaricious bar girl who moves on after the fun goes out of the relationship.
The book can be found in most bookstores, though Monsoon Books did not inform me just how much it will retail for in the shops. I have to admit I did not read all the case histories, as I had already found most of them boring and repetitive. They probably are true, however, and are more than somewhat reminiscent of the calls for help that go out to our redoubtable Ms. Hillary, who can dispense advice much cheaper than Olson’s going rate. Ms. Hillary also does not sleep with the women in question either.
Quite frankly, I found it to be a rather sad book, but then perhaps I am not enough of a voyeur to be excited by such cases. Surely everyone knows by now that the women who work in bars are not doing it to improve their English? But apparently not. There are those who cite as evidence some very successful marriages between bar girls and foreigners. Good luck to them, they certainly did not need to hire a PI. I was also surprised that an author of the caliber of Stephen Leather would agree to being involved in this book.