HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

The Corruptionist

When any book written by Christopher G Moore arrives on the reviewer’s desk, it automatically goes to the top of the pile. Especially if the book is another chapter in the life of Moore’s Bangkok PI Vincent Calvino.
This latest in the Calvino series, the 11th, is titled The Corruptionist (ISBN 978-616-90393-3-4, Heaven Lake Press, 2010).
This book is very much up to the minute and has as a backdrop, the so-called ‘war on drugs’, the take-over of parliament house and then the airport. It may be fiction, but has enough fact to make it very believable.
The characters are also very believable, with the permanently drunk McPhail, the master of the one-liners. Trying unsuccessfully to satisfy Bill, the director of picture hanging in the bar, McPhail declares, “If Bill had organized the crucifixion, they’d still be trying to get Jesus straight on the cross.” Blasphemy as one hears in every bar.
The plot revolves around two high flying American brothers, one of whom lives a booze-soaked existence in Bangkok, and their GM rice growing business. Family feuding brings in an American PI (a Thai-born lady) and various Thai and Thai-Chinese interested parties.
Now bring in some shady Chinese investors who seem to have an unhealthy interest in the health-giving properties of GM food, which in the end leads Calvino to black market weapons manufacturers.
Without spoiling the book with too much revelation, I can say that amongst the characters you will find a very influential political figure and his wife, a ‘mor doo’ (fortune teller), and Calvino’s buddy and patron, Colonel Pratt, the saxophone playing, Shakespeare quoting Bangkok policeman. And as always there are more than a few murders and bodies in various places and anatomical pieces.
In many ways, this Christopher G Moore book, to my mind, is quite different from the preceding 10 in the Calvino series. There is a reverse analogy to the screen portrayal of the James Bond character. Agent 007 began smooth and sophisticated, but has ended up as Daniel Craig, a rough-edged Bond who could bleed. Vincent Calvino was a rough-edged American PI, who inhabited the underbelly of Bangkok and bled regularly, but in this book, he has inherited money and is definitely circulating in a higher level and wearing better suits, which somehow avoid becoming blood-spattered. Likewise, instead of the small town crimes he apprehended previously, Vinny Calvino morphs into Khun Vincent Calvino embroiled in what he describes as, “complicated deals involving government officials, military officers, big-money types, regional gangsters and powerful Bangkok families.” This ‘new’ Calvino even has a lady stockbroker who does house calls. The old one never had enough money to invest in anything other than a bottle of cheap whiskey.
In many ways, this is a ‘brave’ book. There are many characters who are immediately recognizable, despite the usual disclaimers. If this book were translated into Thai language, I would suggest Christopher Moore and Vincent Calvino should catch the first plane out of the Kingdom.
Another riveting read from Christopher G Moore and one you should not miss. Available at all good bookstores for B. 499. Get it.