Customer Reviews for

Bangkok 8 (Sonchai Jitpleecheep Series #1)

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

A riveting mystery of crime and of the soul

From the first page I knew I would enjoy this book. John Burdett does a great job writing a novel using the comparison made by Sonchai of Western logic compared with Eastern intuition. I loved the structure of Sonchai's mind, constantly detecting not only with classic p...
From the first page I knew I would enjoy this book. John Burdett does a great job writing a novel using the comparison made by Sonchai of Western logic compared with Eastern intuition. I loved the structure of Sonchai's mind, constantly detecting not only with classic pluck, research and interviews, but the communication with past lives, lost loved ones, and the teachings of Buddha. So personal was the narrative, and involving people from Sonchai's work and personal life, past and present, that it could have easily been a traditional novel instead of a mystery. This is writing that helps you instantly know things about characters---barring the mystery's revelations, of course. I loved the insight into the Western mind, in many aspects, but, especially, sexuality and corruption. This novel truly demonstrates how alien a culture can seem and how judgmental one can be when encountering it.
This novel was also very funny. You never know when impending doom becomes an uncontrollable guffaw. Also, seeing as how Sonchai's name really IS unique to the ears of Westerners, the old joke of his name frequently getting mispronounced does not get old.
In contrast to the humor, is the underlying sense of tragedy, and I don't mean an American perception of what tragedy or poverty entails for a Thai, but the characters' own perception of their unhappiness. The novel can be cerebral at time, diverging into monologues, but they are always riveting. And, unlike John Twelve Hawks' trilogy, the exposition needed to explain Sonchai's, and through him, any Thai's worldview, never seemed to break the mood, break character, or take us out of this captivating narrative. I don't know why I'm not giving this 5 stars. Maybe if there was a 4 ½.

posted by Camboron on March 4, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

Disappointment

Having read one of Burdett's novels about his detective who is trying very hard to be a good Buddhist, I was expecting to be entertained by this book. It turned out to be too "steamy" for me. People who feel that sex is not a spectator sport should avoid this story.

posted by GailMarlow on December 17, 2011

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  • Posted March 4, 2012

    A riveting mystery of crime and of the soul

    From the first page I knew I would enjoy this book. John Burdett does a great job writing a novel using the comparison made by Sonchai of Western logic compared with Eastern intuition. I loved the structure of Sonchai's mind, constantly detecting not only with classic pluck, research and interviews, but the communication with past lives, lost loved ones, and the teachings of Buddha. So personal was the narrative, and involving people from Sonchai's work and personal life, past and present, that it could have easily been a traditional novel instead of a mystery. This is writing that helps you instantly know things about characters---barring the mystery's revelations, of course. I loved the insight into the Western mind, in many aspects, but, especially, sexuality and corruption. This novel truly demonstrates how alien a culture can seem and how judgmental one can be when encountering it.
    This novel was also very funny. You never know when impending doom becomes an uncontrollable guffaw. Also, seeing as how Sonchai's name really IS unique to the ears of Westerners, the old joke of his name frequently getting mispronounced does not get old.
    In contrast to the humor, is the underlying sense of tragedy, and I don't mean an American perception of what tragedy or poverty entails for a Thai, but the characters' own perception of their unhappiness. The novel can be cerebral at time, diverging into monologues, but they are always riveting. And, unlike John Twelve Hawks' trilogy, the exposition needed to explain Sonchai's, and through him, any Thai's worldview, never seemed to break the mood, break character, or take us out of this captivating narrative. I don't know why I'm not giving this 5 stars. Maybe if there was a 4 ½.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 25, 2012

    Highly recommended!!

    Once I started this book Icouldn't put it down! I would like to know if there are more from this author available on Nook.

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  • Posted June 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Surreal and very atmospheric police procedural

    East meets West, everyday violence meets a touch of the paranormal (or at least the obscure), and good solid detective work is underscored with Buddhism, drugs and alcohol to create a fascinating feast in John Burdett's Bangkok 8.

    My husband really enjoyed this novel and recommended I should read it-a good recommendation, since I enjoyed it. My husband likes things logical, and the mystery at the heart of this novel is very logically resolved, though neither of us managed to guess the complete resolution before it was revealed. We both like introductions to different cultures, and, while I doubt if Thailand is a as corrupt as its fictional portrayal, the twists and turns of different values and morals are truly fascinating.

    This novel's not one for the squeamish or for readers who prefer their good guys good and their bad guys bad, but it's a surreal voyage through sensual experience, mystical musings, good clean detective work and complex moral ambiguity, resulting in a really good read. I'm hoping my husband will buy and read the rest of the series soon so I can enjoy them too.



    Disclosure: My husband bought, read, enjoyed and recommended this.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2005

    The best novel I read this year, almost

    Bangkok 8 has everything you could want from a detective story. It features an exotic local, a fascinating protagonist and an interesting vehicle with which to compare Thai and American culture. The story centers around Royal Thai police detective Sonchai Jitplecheep who, with his partner Pichai, has been assigned the task of tailing a U.S. marine. The marine is found dead and crawling with poisonous snakes. In the process of dealing with the snakes, Pichai is killed and Sonchai now has to find out who did it so he can get his revenge. The investigation will give us a tour of Thailand¿s booming sex industry and lead us to a rich and influential American gem merchant. John Burdett has been compared favorably with Martin Cruz Smith, which is high praise indeed. Smith¿s Arkady Renko is considered the archetype for this type of foreign police detective and if you¿ve read Gorky Park you will see similarities with Bangkok 8. Both stories take you inside a foreign culture and show you a side of law enforcement most Americans never see. Both stories also provide an interesting view of American culture as seen by an outsider. As with many good books, what works in Bangkok 8 highlights what doesn¿t. At times it is evident Burdette isn¿t showing us the thoughts and feelings of Thai people but rather his interpretation of these thoughts and feelings. Also, the American characters are portrayed as one-dimensional. I know part of this was the point, Americans would seem dull to a Thai, but I think he could have developed the female FBI Agent who works with Sonchai a little better. She has the hots for him and immediately abandons western logic to adopt his eastern intuitive style of investigation. I think a more realistic approach would be for both of them to make contributions to the investigation based on the strengths of the systems they employ. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and will look forward to reading it¿s sequel in the next year.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2004

    What a fun read!

    As a Thai Buddhist, I've found this novel very refreshing and full of intriguing details. It's outrageous at times. Some parts are very funny (if you understand how Thai people think). It might be difficult to picture all the different scenes in your mind if you haven't been to Bangkok, Thailand, but the author's descriptions are vivid and quite accurate. I really like the ending although some might disagree. It resonates well with how many Thai people perceive the concept of karma and punishment (especially the payback we encounter in this lifetime). I hope there's a sequel coming up soon!

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