by Lang Reid
new book from John Burdett this week. Burdett is remembered for his previous
Bangkok books, Bangkok 8, Bangkok Tattoo, Bangkok Haunts plus the Godfather
of Kathmandu. Vulture Peak is his latest book (ISBN978-1-47210-517-2,
Corsair, 2012) and is now available on the Bookazine shelves.
This book again features his Royal Thai Police detective Sonchai
Jitpleecheep, a ‘luk krueng’ son of a bar owner, who is a rather
introspective detective with a transsexual assistant, married to an
ex-prostitute who is now studying Sociology and her PhD thesis. His superior
in the RTPF, called Vikorn, is a multi-millionaire, accumulated through
graft and corruption. His main rival in the corruption stakes is an Army
General called Zinna. While all that may sound a little far-fetched, people
like this do exist in Thailand. Especially the latter.
The theme of Vulture Peak is the international trade in body parts for
transplantation. Many impoverished people have realized that their kidney,
for example, is worth real money. Detective Sonchai thinking of “…all the
other Asian women and men who had tried to help their families by selling
body parts after the tsunami. It’s a beautiful global world, so long as you
keep your eyes shut.” A thought that can be applied to much in Thailand.
All the way through the book, Author Burdett adds a personal touch by
addressing DFR, which is his acronym for Dear Farang Reader. A good way to
hold the interest.
The book involves Buddhist spirituality, parapsychology, meditation and
extreme introspection. It pays dividends to keep your mind open as you go
through the book. Detective Sonchai wrestles with his own demons when
confronted with human eyes, telling his boss that he can hear them speak. A
delusion not accepted by his boss, but very ‘real’ to Sinchai.
Sonchai is joined in the search for the body parts syndicate by a detective
from Hong Kong who is a certified crazy with bipolar problems, looking to
become a martyr. The third policeman comes from China, making this body
parts smugglers truly international. The Hong Kong policeman has a rather
telling opinion of our local RTPF saying, “We study Thai police as an
example of how not to do things.”
England comes in for its fair share of derision as the HK policeman
appraised Detective Sonchai of Britain’s part in the smuggling of opium,
before smuggling in body parts became fashionable, possible and very
All the way through the book there is the common thread of adultery both
with Sonchai and his wife Chanya. Both wondering if the other has been
faithful, which they discuss honestly at the very end of the book, Sonchai
having heard of a junior policeman and Chanya having heard of a Phuket bar
The denouement happens at great speed, and leaves the reader somewhat
gasping to take in so much at one time. This book can readily be considered
as a thriller in the true meaning of the word.
At B. 385 a very cheap read. The book will keep your attention for a
weekend. Just don’t be squeamish, there’s quite a few corpses between the
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