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Book Review: by Lang Reid
No Problem Girl
novel from David Young entitled No Problem Girl (Hostage Press
International, ISBN 978-974-13-7293-5). The previous ones included The
Scribe, Thailand Joy, Fast Eddie’s Lucky 7 A-Go-Go, Sukhumvit Road and
The plot revolves around the “no problem” girl Aree from the North-East,
working as a waitress in a Pattaya beer bar. Aree’s bar is owned by a Mr.
Dwight, who is presented as the font of bar wisdom with the proverbial heart
of gold, after you scratch the surface.
The male lead character is a Peter Slodell, an heir to a fortune in America
who needs to get married and contacts Siam Dreams. This is an introduction
agency, to which Aree has applied, looking for a husband who might get her
family out of its pressing financial problems (as befalls all Isaan families
After the stage is set, the action bowls along at a reasonable clip, during
which time David Young very succinctly shows the minefield called
Thai-foreigner communications and relationships. And it is a minefield for
someone like Peter Slodell.
The mandatory visit to the family home in the sticks is described, along
with the spine breaking ride in a pick-up through the dusty roads. The
family unit is also well thought through, from the 15 year old motorcycle
racing brother with no job, the scheming older sister and the mother who
lives her life as the dutiful Thai wife to a husband who (amazingly) is
still present in the household and addicted to gambling.
Unfortunately this novel had too many factual mistakes to maintain even a
fašade of reality. People leaping into and out of tuk-tuks lined up in
Pattaya is just not the case - Pattaya does not have tuk-tuk taxis lined up
in rows. Pattaya also does not have a Pattaya airport to allow the young
couple to fly to Isaan. This I found disturbing as usually David Young pays
much attention to detail. In the my review of his previous book Bangkok Dick
I even wrote, “Based in Bangkok, the author gives enough of the local color
to lend some credibility to the tale, no matter how tall at times.” This is
not the same with No Problem Girl.
Author David Young is an observant writer and his character sketches are
very good, but the varied persona he gives his characters in this book is
not believable. The principal of Siam Dreams is described minutely as being
more than somewhat seedy, and yet is also given a heart of gold, as was the
bar owner Mr. Dwight character. I am yet to meet such paragons in Pattaya,
resulting in the book falling down in the credibility stakes, which is a
shame, as the involved plot concept does make for a very interesting read.
Still worth getting at B. 450.
No Problem Girl is a little like the curate’s egg - good in parts - and for
the reader who does not know Pattaya, or its inhabitants, this will be a
great read. For those of us who live here, it is still a good read, but
disappointing in the attention to detail.
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