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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

No Problem Girl

Another 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 Bangkok Dick.
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 it seems).
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.