four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
18-Sept-Oct-2005
By: 
John Burdett
user_rating: 
0

A-BangkokTattooTwo years after the success of his critically-acclaimed Bangkok 8 (2003), Burdett recaptures the intrigue of Bangkok’s red-light district with this provocative story about death and deception. Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep of the Royal Thai Police returns to narrate as he opens the story with the grisly murder of a C.I.A. agent at the hands of a Thai prostitute. Is it a set-up? A conspiracy? The C.I.A is convinced that Al Qaeda is behind the murder, but Jitpleecheep thinks otherwise. The quick-witted Buddhist must piece together clues to the murder without buckling under the pressure of U.S. government intervention.
Knopf. 302 pages. $24. ISBN: 1400040450

Providence Journal 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Bangkok Tattoo is something else. As a crime novel, it’s superb; as a sometimes terrifying, often funny, always enlightening peephole on the new world order, it ups our expectations not only for genre fiction but for the novel as a form of truth, the truth behind the media." Tom D’Evelyn

Plain Dealer 4 of 5 Stars
"Highly imaginative, the novel is swarming with odd characters. … Bangkok Tattoo is an entertaining book, and Burdett is in comfortable control of this well-oiled machine." Jean Charbonneau

St. Louis Dispatch 4 of 5 Stars
"With Bangkok Tattoo, Burdett has worked his way into what could be an entertaining series of mysteries, with this a better, more credible read than the first. … Burdett has a knack for weaving sardonic dialogue and imaginative details, plus insights into Sonchai’s version of Buddhism, into a strong story line that carries through to the mostly believable conclusion."
Repps Hudson

Newsday 3.5 of 5 Stars
"[An] exuberant tale in which Muslim clerics, a long-lost American father, Japanese tattoo artists and a ghostly brother play key roles. In truth, Burdett doesn’t need to work so furiously conjuring up his over-the-top plots; Sonchai’s voice is so distinctively off-kilter as the narrator of his own ghastly misadventures, he could read the ingredients list of Singha beer out loud and most readers would be entranced." Maureen Corrigan

St. Petersburg Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Burdett takes us inside a culture very different from our own and treats it always with respect and understanding. He made that world so vivid and fascinating in Bangkok 8 that a sequel seemed risky—could he do it again, and create another plot as astounding as the one that drove the first book? He could, and in Bangkok Tattoo he has."
Colette Bancroft

NY Times Book Review 3 of 5 Stars
"The atmosphere in Bangkok Tattoo is no less humidly and richly imagined, and the luridness is perhaps even more welcoming than in Bangkok 8. But this time that world doesn’t feel as unfamiliar or strange, or as enticing." Charles Taylor

Critical Summary

Burdett, well on his way to establishing a series with the inquisitive Jitpleecheep at the helm, has again mastered the art of mystery in this entertaining romp through the shady underbelly of Thailand. Supported by an oddball cast of characters and colored with dark humor, Bangkok Tattoo is at once brassy and daring in its approach. Jitpleecheep’s narration, sarcastic and bold, provides the readers with a fresh perspective on everything from the sex trade industry to American greed. Though critics wondered if Burdett could successfully revisit Jitpleecheep’s seedy world of sex and murder, Bangkok Tattoo proves there’s still a lot left in Burdett’s imagination.

Also in the Series

Bangkok 8 (2003): 3.5 of 5 Stars Sept/Oct 2003. The incorruptible Detective Jitpleecheep, son of a Thai prostitute and a long gone American G.I., sets out to avenge his partner and Buddhist soulmate’s death.