Book Review
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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

Permanent Damage

Dean Barrett’s latest book, Permanent Damage (ISBN 978-0-9788888-2-4, Village East Books, 2010) is due for release, but reserve your copy before then, knowing the popularity of his books with his Private Investigator Scott Sterling.

In this book, he is hired by a mysterious woman to ascertain whether her ex-US Military father was murdered, or was it suicide – back in 1973, in a fire in Bangkok. Now 40 years later, what were the chances of solving this mystery?

Unfortunately for Scott Sterling, it turns out that the mystery runs much deeper than just one ex-US Military personnel, as there appears to be a whole platoon of them involved in one way or another, with the involvement going right back to the secret war in Laos (the war that neither side would ever admit to, and the associations, and hatreds, that were stemming from then.

By the time I was half way through this book, I wondered just how many balls author Dean Barrett could keep in the air at one time? The plot seemed to have so many directions, I was starting to get in trouble remembering just who was siding for or against whom!

By placing the novel in the current time scale, complete with ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and recognizable bars in Nana and Soi Cowboy, author Barrett adds realism to the book, and by playing on very plausible human characteristics such as greed and corruption, it becomes even more real. And even more central to the plot is the one familiar characteristic – revenge.

Each chapter corresponds to one day and the entire action is packed into 11 days, and believe me there is more than enough of action in that. Murders, attempted murders, aliases, bullets at short range, it is all there.

Two of the characters in the book describe the expat life. “We were laughing at life in Thailand and how the normal and the abnormal often seem to overlap, dissolve, and, with no prior notice change places. We had both chosen to live in a parallel universe devoid of Western logic; an uncharted cosmos with its ever-changing kaleidoscope of emotions, colors, sounds, tastes, joys and sorrows, loyalties and betrayals.” You will not read a better pr้cis. Anywhere.

If I were to perhaps pick a hole or two, it would not be for the plot, content or the suspense, but in common with so much from the US Military there is an endless stream of acronyms, which started to drive me quietly crazy. It has taken me years to get around JUSMAG. A page at the end of the next book with the explanations, please, Dean Barrett.

At an RRP of B. 450 and almost 400 pages, this is great value reading. I must also congratulate Village East Books on the paper stock used. White and sturdy of a good weight, this book will last on your shelf, unlike much of the paper pulp books we seem to get these days. It was a pleasure to hold, a pleasure to read and even greater pleasure to enjoy the mystery. Don’t miss this suspense mystery. Fabulous read.