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Book Review: by Lang Reid
Paying Back Jack
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
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..
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