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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Lawyer-turned-novelist John Burdett revisits the seedy red light district of Thailand's capital in Bangkok Tattoo, the follow-up to 2003's critically acclaimed Bangkok 8.
Royal Thai police detective and devout Buddhist Sonchai Jitpleecheep is stuck between a proverbial rock and a hard place when a CIA agent is found brutally murdered in a brothel owned in part by the detective's mother and his corrupt boss, Colonel Vikorn. The only witness -- and suspect -- is a seductively beautiful prostitute named Chanya, "a tantric master in a G-string, a topless sorceress" and the Old Man's Club's biggest breadwinner. If Jitpleecheep arrests Chanya, his mother's struggling business could go belly up; but if he agrees to follow Colonel Vikorn's lead and blame the murder on a terrorist connected to al-Qaeda, he could very well be bringing all-out war to Thailand. As the CIA brings in more manpower to ineptly investigate the operative's horrific murder (he was castrated and partially skinned), Jitpleecheep slowly gets the real -- and jaw-dropping -- story out of Chanya, whose account includes an extended trip across pre-9/11 America, opium addiction, Homer Simpson, and a tattoo-obsessed john.
Featuring all kinds of corruption and vices (from twisted sexual propensities to military and political subversion to drug and weapons trafficking), the exotic setting of Bangkok -- and especially the striking difference between Southeast Asian culture and Western philosophy -- makes Burdett's mystery a simply unforgettable read. Paul Goat Allen