Bangkok detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep of the Royal Thai Police returns in another dramatic, action-packed, and nearly hallucinogenic plot involving tattoo artists, mutilated corpses, golden-hearted whores, hard-bitten police captains, Muslim fundamentalists, and the CIA—all of this against the backdrop of an impoverished nation dependent on drugs and the sex trade for survival and a Buddha-worshipping cop who doesn’t hesitate to bend the rules when necessity and/or his conscience dictates.
A strangely brilliant and obsessive CIA operative named Mitch Turner is found murdered in the bed of his long-term lover, a beautiful Thai “bar girl” (read prostitute) named Chanya who happens to the biggest moneymaker in a brothel owned by Sonchai’s mother, herself a retired bar girl. Sonchai has been more than half in love with Chanya for years, and in the process of investigating her for the murder (and hiding her from the CIA operatives who come looking), he discovers her diary which reveals a years’-long history of her odd and turbulent relationship with the murdered agent, and other secrets as well. In collaboration with his own police captain, who is also a co-owner of the brothel with Sonchai’s mother, our hero reluctantly agrees to cover up the murder by throwing suspicion on fundamentalist Muslims who Turner had been surveilling at the time of his death. These particular Muslims, however, are pacifists and desperate to avoid a confrontation with the U.S. that could throw the entire region into the kind of violence already afflicting the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere.
While Sonchai does battle with his own conscience, more mutilation/murderscrop up, his boss engages in a dangerous feud with a soulless police captain from a different Bangkok district, Japanese yakuza gangsters arrive on the scene, and Sonchai has long talks both with his dead partner’s still-hovering spirit and also with his street-smart mom on how to handle the growing chaos around him. Burdett’s colorful characters, fast-paced and snappy dialogue, and of course Sonchai’s uniquely comical take on religion, morality, sex, death and politics keep the pages turning while we get a head-spinning tour of Burdett’s beloved Bangkok.