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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

Paying Back Jack

When I receive a book for review from Christopher G. Moore, I immediately look forward to being entertained. I have yet to be disappointed, especially with his Vincent Calvino series. The private investigator who works the seedy side of Bangkok is no suave, sophisticated James Bond, shaken but not stirred, but more in the rough and tough Daniel Craig style of 007, who drinks beer from the bottle. And yet he has a soft side, allowing his ramshackle office to be used as a crèche by his secretary and all her friends. You can smell the nappies.
Paying Back Jack is the 10th in the series (ISBN 978-974-312-920-9, Heaven Lake Press, 2009) and in this book, Calvino finds himself inextricably bound up with an influential Thai who is running for parliament, his mia noi and another interesting group of people called ‘private contractors’. You and I might have called them mercenaries, but these are men who are particularly good at their job, be that extermination or extraction of confessions.
Christopher G. Moore is an exceptional writer whose eye for detail and his using of known landmarks makes the plot and its background seem very real. Having visited Soi Cowboy more than once, I almost expected to see myself between the pages. Calvino must have missed me, thank goodness.
He describes Sukhumvit Soi 33 perfectly: “…a rainy afternoon on the soi of ‘Dead Artists’ bars. While the city was short on museums, Calvino’s street was rich with bars named, Renoir, Degas, Monet and Cezanne, filled with people who had no idea who those painters were.”
Or what about this? “The humidity and heat had bred two competing organisms. A black fungus and green algae that fought over rights to the half-melted caulking in a window. The street could have passed as a petri dish experiment in a nineteenth century science lab. An ice cream vendor slumped over his cart in the shade, quiet enough that bacteria could have been culturing on the side of his sleeping face.”
Just take my word for it, that this novel will keep you on tenterhooks as you wait for what you expect the outcome to be. But it isn’t. And I am not going to take away any of the suspense by giving you even the slightest clue. However, I will say that the way the different characters, which seem unrelated to each other, are finally brought together is superb literary craftsmanship. This is a tale which will have you snarling at the intrusion of a telephone, and heaven help any child that wants a glass of water!
At B. 595 this is great value for a great read. Calvino continues to stumble through areas where even the angels in the City of Angels would fear to tread. Fortunately he has his confidante and in some ways, patron, in Colonel Pratt, but usually Calvino finds his own way out. Generally painfully.
This book is aching to be made into a movie, it has all the requirements. Action, women, crooked politicians, hired killers and psychopaths. It outdoes James Bond in the same genre. Get this book..