Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Mystery novel’

.18896193_303

I have just finished reading the second installment in the series of my current book crush, The Adventures of Auntie Poldi. Although the books purport to be detective stories, I, frankly, do not recall in either of the two novels of the series I have read so far who was killed or why. Nor can I claim they are great or even good literature. So, what attracts me to these books?

Perhaps it is the magnificently exuberant and shameless bit of overwriting with which the author begins his novel:

“Although in the past few months Poldi had temporarily thwarted death thanks to solving her handyman Valentino’s murder, her romantic encounter with Vito Montana (Polizia di Stato’s chief inspector in charge of homicide cases), her friendship with her neighbours Valérie and sad Signora Cocuzza, my aunts’ efforts and, last but not least, her own love of the chase, we all know the way of the world: peace reigns for a while, the worst seems to be over, the sun breaks through the clouds, the future beckons once more, your cigarette suddenly tastes good again, the air hums with life and the whole world becomes a congenial place pervaded by whispers of great things to come. A simply wonderful, wonderful, universally familiar sensation. And then, like a bolt from the blue, pow! Not that anyone has seen it coming, but the wind changes. Fate empties a bucket of excrement over your head, chuckling as it does so, and all you can think is “Wow, now I really need a drink!” And the whole shitty process starts again from scratch. So it was no wonder my aunts became alarmed when Poldi still had no running water after two weeks and Lady was murdered. No doubt about it, the wind had changed and the ice was growing steadily thinner.”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2). HMH Books.

 

Or perhaps, it is Auntie Poldi herself, a lusty sixty-year-old German woman who had married a Sicilian immigrant to Bavaria and who after his death retired to her husband’s ancestral town on the slopes of Mt Etna there to “drink herself to death with a view of the sea.”

Poldi wears a wig, dresses usually in brightly colored caftans, enthusiastically and vigorously enjoys sex, and as the daughter of a Bavarian chief of detectives is compulsively drawn to solving crimes, photographing cute policemen in uniform and bedding dusky and hunky Sicilian detectives (well one in particular).

On the other hand, Poldi was a woman of strong opinions as well as strong appetites. As she explained to her nephew whom she had appointed to be the Watson to her Holmes:

“I’ve never been devout,” she explained later before I could query this in surprise because I knew that Poldi harbored a fundamental aversion to the Church. “I’m spiritual but not devout, know what I mean? I’ve never had much time for the Church. The mere thought of it infuriates me. The males-only organizations, the pope, the original-sin malarkey, the inhibited cult of the Virgin Mary, the false promises of redemption, the proselytism, the misogyny, the daft words of the psalms and hymns. Mind you, I’ve always liked the tunes. I always enjoyed chanting in the ashram, you know. I screwed every hippie in the temple of that Kali sect in Nevada, I’ve meditated in Buddhist monasteries, and I believe in reincarnation and karma and all that, likewise in people’s essential goodness. I don’t know if there’s a god and if he’s got something against sex and unbelievers, but I can’t help it, I’m Catholic. It’s like malaria: once you’ve got it you never get rid of it, and sooner or later you go and make peace with it.”
Giordano, Mario.Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2). HMH Books.

Or on even another hand, perhaps it is the authors alter ego, Poldi’s 34-year-old unmarried nephew, the narrator in the books, a self-described but inept author who works at a call center in Bavaria. He has been attempting to write the great Bavarian novel for years now but seems to have only recently gotten inspired to write the first four chapters the last of which he enthusiastically describes in a blaze of overwriting:

“I was in full flow. I was the adjective ace, the metaphor magician, the sorcerer of the subordinate clause, the expresser of emotions, the master of a host of startling but entirely plausible turns of events. The whole of my fourth chapter had been completed within a week. I was a paragon of self-discipline and inspiration, the perfect symbiosis of Germany and Italy. I was a Cyclops of the keyboard. I was Barnaba. All I lacked was a nymph, but my new Sicilian styling would soon change that.”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2). HMH Books.

He found himself periodically called to travel to Sicily and reside in an attic room in Poldi’s house whenever the Sicilian relatives believed Poldi was skating on the thin edge of reality or whenever Poldi herself demanded his return because she felt she needed someone to beguile and complain to.

Or perhaps, it is the denizens of my beloved Sicily, like the three aunts fascinated and often shocked by, and at times participants in, Poldi’s escapades. Or her partners in crime, so to speak, sad Carmina and the local priest. Or, Poldi’s French friend, Valerie her forlorn nephew’s love interest who Poldi steadfastly refuses to allow him to meet.

“For Valérie, like Poldi, happiness possessed a simple binary structure, and the whole of human existence was suspended between two relatively distant poles. Between heaven and hell, love and ignorance, responsibility and recklessness, splendour and scuzz, the essential and the dispensable. And within this dual cosmic structure there existed only two kinds of people: the deliziosi and the spaventosi, the charming and the frightful. Rule of thumb: house guests, friends and dogs are always deliziosi, the rest are spaventosi. At least until they prove otherwise.”

“‘You see,’ Poldi told me once, ‘Valérie has understood that happiness is a simple equation. Happiness equals reality minus expectation.’”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2). HMH Books.

 

Or perhaps, it is just that I am a child of Sicily, have lived as well as visited there many times and loved that large rocky Island whose citizens have suffered almost two thousand five hundred years of continuous occupation by a host of invaders— Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Germans, French, Spanish, Bourbons, Nazi’s, and even British and Americans. Where the inhabitants were considered so irrelevant by their foreign overlords their cities, unlike the rest of Europe, were built without defensive walls. Where the people are reticent with strangers but boisterous and generous with friends and family, where Bella Figura reigns supreme, the cuisine extraordinary, people speak in gestures and revel in the mores of their medieval culture and where “Being Sicilian is a question of heart, not genes” (Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna, An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2. HMH Books.)

Whatever, the reasons for my own enjoyment of the books, Pookie says you should check them out, after all, as Auntie Poldi says: “Moderation is a sign of weakness.” (Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2). HMH Books.)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

_104902725_gettyimages-544452156

My partially completed but never to be finished novel, Dominion, can be found at, https://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/dominion-an-unfinished-and-never-published-novel/. Below is one of the draft chapters in which the main protagonist, Vince Biondi, is confronted by San Mateo County Sheriff Megs Polan.

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL: “Dominion.” When Vince Meets Megs.

Chapter whatever:

Vince took into the office washroom the overnight suitcase he always kept available in his office in case he had to make a sudden short business trip or pulled an all-nighter like this one. He washed as best he could, shaved, changed his clothing and returned to his office just as Ray arrived to accompany him to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s office. Ray had obviously been called by Ike and was dressed in what for him passed for business attire, pearl button earrings, a military-style camouflage jacket, matching camouflage pants and neon green Crocs on his feet.

When they arrived at the Sheriff’s office, they were immediately ushered into the office of Sheriff Megan (Megs) Polan, former beauty queen, bodybuilding champion and a rising star in local Republican politics. Vince and Ray sat in chairs across the hygienically clean desk behind which Megs sat enthroned like a medieval duchess. Her still super toned body so filled out her tan uniform that it looked painted on. She had curly auburn hair that hung down to her shoulders and the steely blue eyes of either a stone cold killer or paranoid schizophrenic. She did not rise to greet them or speak but leaned across her desk and pushed a transparent evidence bag containing a small piece of paper towards them. As she bent forward, Vince caught a glimpse of cleavage struggling to escape the casually unbuttoned shirt. He also noticed the large black pistol riding high on her hip. Vince disconcerted that he found himself turned on, covered his embarrassment by dropping his eyes to the proffered evidence bag and studying its contents.

Inside the bag was a piece of paper torn from a small spiral bound notebook and on it, written in a shaky hand, was the message, “If anything should happen to me, call Vincent Biondi,” along with Vince’s personal mobile phone number.

“So Mr. Biondi,” Megs intoned in her surprisingly whiskey edged voice, “what can you tell me about this note and what may have happened to Mrs. Stephanie Coign last night?”

Read Full Post »



Last night we had an East Coast style thunder-storm, full of lightning and end of the world cracks of thunder. The lights went out and we rushed around the house closing all the windows. What fun. Then, as quickly as it began, it ended except for some deep rumblings in the mountains that reminded me of Rip Van Winkle and his little men bowling nine pins and drinking beer in the Catskills. I suppose a more Thai related analogy would be appropriate. Like, the screams of the King of the Naga as it rises from the depths of the Mekong, all nine heads of it, to do battle with Rama or the Monkey King (I forget which). I prefer old Rip’s tale. By the way, did you know that the giant catfish of the Mekong can weigh up to a ton?

Yesterday I practiced driving on the wrong side of the street. I got tired of waiting for the driver for every trip to the mall I had to make to buy some toothpaste or the like. The insanity of a 70-year-old man learning to drive on the wrong side of the street and braving the impossible Thai traffic in order to go to the mall is appalling. After all, this is Thailand and one expects elephants, tigers in the bush, secretive mountain tribes deep in the jungle, dope smugglers staggering under their loads on narrow mountain paths, white sandy beaches, and elegant hotels and so on. Instead, here I am living in a subdivision with a bunch of fundamentalist Christian missionaries, the remnant of the “faith initiative”, the vanguard of the Armies of Armageddon, and loving every minute of it.

Today’s photo: me having my morning coffee.

I nope everyone is doing well.

Joe..

—————————————————————————

FROM MY JOURNAL:

January 22 2010.

Noon
Let’s jump to today. Tai called. Said the baby has been in Hospital since Tuesday. He could not keep down the milk and has a fever. Said she was at Hospital all alone. Mother not in BKK. The doctor said baby ok just a typical problem at one-month-old.

Said she did not return to my hotel because baby was throwing up and she went to Hospital. Tried to call but did not get through. Did not get note I left on her email. Needs money.

Belief??? It was Sunday night that she did not show up.

Started email correspondence with Irwin. Am enjoying it so far.

Began novel with Story Mill, first task. Stymied on second task. Cannot figure out disaster events.

Supposed to go downtown today. Natalie last night said she would call driver for 10 o’clock. At 11:30 after some communication difficulty with the maid she called someone whom I assumed was the driver. I asked him to come right away. He has not arrived yet.

He arrived as I wrote the above.

8:00pm
Went to Big C got 25,000 baht from ATM. Went to Central, ate lunch at McDonald’s. Tai called. Located BKK Bank sent her 10,000 baht. Went to Nokia shop bought Phone. Spoke with Tai again. Bought a Thai flower identification book and one for orchids. Waited for the driver. He did not come. Found taxi driver who charged 150 baht. for the same distance as airport driver charged 100 baht. Went to Hayden’s school and walked home.

Gave Hayden long thin bamboo type stick and we pretended to fish the canals. Stopped to watch two men who had spread a net in the large canal but caught only two fish.

Identified Tulip tree, Spider Lilly and a few other flowers from the book.

Hayden went bike riding with Leo and his father while I napped. Natalie arrived with driver. She seemed to be in a relatively good and friendly mood. Driver gave me the wood restoration oil spray can. Nat said it was not the right kind. Dithered to put her off.

Hayden returned, Went to restaurant in a street end in subdivision run by a 73 year old shriveled woman who had been the wife of a mayor of Chiang Mai. Ate a good but very spicy dish made from vegetables and herbs grown on site and drank a herb wine made by the woman from unknown herbs and fruits. Quite enjoyable chilled. Two of Hayden’s teachers arrived. We paid for their meals and ours. About 8 American dollars for all five meals plus wine.

Went home and now I am in bed. G’night.

January 23 2010.

2:39 am
Awoke, cannot get back to sleep. Do not feel like doing anything. Practiced typing.

10:00 pm
Waited for Cordt. Gave me the phone number of fixer for a visa. Went to the same restaurant.

Earlier went to Central. Withdrew 20,000 baht. Gave Natalie only 15,000 baht for “hot water” repairs. Got haircut. Played with Hayden constructing a new Leggo set Natalie bought for him. Used the spray can on the wood foot stool and a few other wood items. Looked pretty good will get more after Nat leaves.

Frank called. Things are looking worse for him.

Nat gave Hayden a time out. Not sure why.

Monday January 25 2010.

2PM
Natalie left at 11 AM to catch a noon flight to Bangkok. I do not know if she told Hayden she was leaving. Nikki is scheduled to arrive tomorrow.

Worked on my novel. supposedly a one paragraph synopsis. I have written about five so far and am not finished. Should go back and condense.

Tai called. Needs money. Maid called driver. No answer. Called Tai told her I will try again tomorrow.

Wrote long email to Irwin.

COMMENTS:

From Ruth Galanter:

At the risk of seeming pedantic but out of loyalty to the legend, I have to remind you that it was supposed to be Hendrick Hudson’s men bowling. Same region as Rip van W, but slightly different story. But I have the same association with thunderstorms.

I must say I’m glad I’m not driving with you while you practice driving on the wrong side of the street. Drive carefully, as “they” say.

Nice photo, but I miss the beard.

Joe’s Response:


You are right. Irving had the bowlers as H. H.’s men’s ghosts. They did drink beer though. I was recalling an illustration of the story showing the bowlers to be definitely on the short side.

I made it to the mall and back.

From Ruth:

What are you doing in the middle of a community of Christian missionaries? It’s interesting how much religions may differ but homeowner associations don’t.
Send photos from the jungles!

Joe’s Response:


They moved in after I built the house. They, of course, are all staunch Republicans.

I do not know if all religions are so different. The “People of the Book”, Jews, Christian and Muslim, appear to me mostly male centered and authoritarian. The Jews at least were forced to adopt independent interpretation as a result of the first century dispersion. The far eastern religions at least avoided the Western hard edged authoritarianism by encouraging their devotees to look inward and submit to secular autocrats instead .

More democratic style institutions appear alike because of their inevitable focus on short term minutia.

Will send pictures.

I had a back yard (or in my case a front yard) barbecue last night.

From Ruth:

You’re right, the religions differ only in superficial ways and I think the Jews may not hate as virulently as some of the others. the differences among religions sometimes remind me of the politics of academia–the less that is at stake, the greater the hostility

I am hoping one day to get my yards (front, back, and side) fixed up. I got a rain barrel through a city demonstration program, now will get a free consultation on how to do yard for optimum water conservation. Every time I look at a “water feature,” all I can see is the ticking of a meter. Same with “decorative lights” and those horrible little lights on appliances. I paid a lot of extra money to get a stove that doesn’t have a clock and little lights telling me things–unless something is on. And I’ve got my dishwasher (which I finally justified as “resale value”) plugged into the circuit designed for a garbage disposal (which I didn’t get) because otherwise it has a whole array of stinking little red lights on all the time. I know they don’t use “much” juice, but I can’t think of a reason to use any unless I’m actually using the appliance. When I left the city, one of my gifts from DWP was a desk lamp made from an old electric meter. It still works. Turn on the lamp and watch the meter chug along….the water side of the dept gave me a clock made from an old water meter, but it’s on a battery. I’m the first person not directly involved in the water services branch to have received one. Since then, I’m told, several officials have “demanded” them.

Joe’s response:

Your garden plans look like they will keep you busy for a while. I do not have any idea how green my landscaping here is. We have a pump that moves water from a well to the house. It has been suggested that we water are garden from the canal behind our house. However when I look at the putrid water in the canal it does not look so appetizing to spread it on the grass.

All male dominated organizations that rely on the unverifiable (e.g. Religion, patriotism, etc.) are authoritarian ( maybe women dominated also but we have little recent experience). Except for the fundamentalists (and maybe the Mossad), thanks to Hillel and his brethren, the jews escaped most of it.

I have imagined that the religions in their constant wars for dominance expected their opponents to feel the same way “”convert or die” and felt it was the natural way of things. Imagine when they met the jews. “what do you mean you do not want to force us to adopt your belief and in fact do not want us in your club at all unless we can show our maimed membership card. That is unnatural and therefor you must be wiped from the face of the earth.”

That’s the problem with being taught by Jesuits. You never lose your fascination with what you do not believe.

From Irwin:

joe- my walking stick and i are now going for our morning walk, completing the circuit of los jardines east to where it meets los jardines west and back to where it again becomes los jardines east (“road trip”). we will pass the 21 acre green valley park, the north pool (home of the green valley dolphins swim team), the adult pool (not heated in winter) and the family pool and center (don’t think the pool is now heated). i also pass two elementary schools which one or both of my children attended. as perhaps a forewarning about the ethnic makeup of the community, one of the schools was named after the first japanese american (from this area) to die in wwII. at that school i also had planted a tree in memory of a friend who was from turkey but killed in a car crash in laguna beach. while a cup of espresso is not on the tour i will be within say one hundred feet of a pho shop which i have yet to try – it’s two doors up from nick’s pizza which is an abysmal place which we only went to once in all of the years we have lived here. it had, as i recall, lots of spaghetti and bad red sauce plus plastic grapes hanging from the ceiling. i suspect rumors of alleged anti-semitism also helped to discourage frequent visits. after i return i shall take a nap; if i am lucky i will sleep until three when i can go visit my mother or buy a lotto ticket or goods for dinner – there is the possibility i may go to the mall and have garlic and cracked pepper french fries with a draft root beer all for under five dollars. i will also be stopping at the mail box to insert a letter to my psychiatrist in which i express my dissatisfaction with the psychiatric services i have/have not received from kaiser permanente for over forty years and explaining that i took and anti-depressant for over ten years and see no reason to take another (which he wants me to do) if he or one of his fellow wizards won’t give me the psychotherapy which i think i need in order to rid myself of deep seated emotional issues and weekly co-pay. seems their current practice is to prescribe drugs and see the patient bi-monthly to checke how the drug is working or to place the patient in a cognitive therapy group consisting of fat or ill-dressed women and one older gay guy who is having a crises because his long-time live-in is expressing discontent about something the gay guy won’t face. then there was the woman who was shacked up with this guy who was talking marriage until she passed the bar and then decided not to practice law upon which (duh) he stopped talking marriage. i need to be with mentally ill people if i’m to be in a group again.

today’s photo is of our neighbor “felix the cat”. i am far from being a cat fancier, however there is something unusual about felix i think he is a reincarnation of someone i once knew but can’t remember. here he is sitting on an old stool outside my french door in the computer room. he knows better than to poop in my yard which my gardener jose jimenez would have to ignore as he does most everything else that should be done.

From Irwin:

j.d.salinger died. aside from being notable for his writing (i.e. catcher in the rye) he was also famous for not wanting to be famous and lived in isolation for the last fifty years.

i have wanted to be famous for the last fifty years and now am living in isolation. for this i am not notable.

Read Full Post »

banyan-tree-on-pipiwai-trail

While passing through those empty times during my cancer treatment when there is little to do other that dwelling on my discomfort or sleeping, I read. Mostly, I read things that pass the time, amusing but like after taking some narcotic and trying to remember what you did while stoned, you know you did it but cannot recall what it was you did while you did it. Along the way, I read my friend Christopher G. Moore’s book, The Marriage Tree. This was different.

To Moore, Bangkok is a mirror revealing the dark soul of humanity. In Thailand, that dark soul, which we like to pretend does not exist wherever we live, drips out bloody and fetid onto the streets of Bangkok.

Like gods, the rich and powerful are immune from judgment and punishment, except by other gods like them. The rest of us are condemned to seeking a rough justice for those of our peers who may have harmed us. Those who truly set into play our small difficulties and tragedies are almost never forced into any court to answer for their complicity.

How many people have died or suffered from the products and services of the corporate entities these godlings control? How many wars have been fought to protect private interests and not the public interests? Has slavery really disappeared where laws have been passed to prohibit it, or are some of the powerful still able to command indenture of the less powerful?

This is perhaps the darkest of Moore’s books. Even the soiled hero of most of his novels, Vincent Calvino, a half Jewish, half Italian disbarred attorney from New York City, who has taken up life as a private detective in Bangkok, finally accepts that true justice, the capping of the godling responsible, is hopeless except by chance, and even then there is always someone else willing to take over and step in to play the godling role. Although the book is cloaked in the guise of a detective thriller, it is not. It is a scream against the gathering darkness of our world as those wealthy and powerful self-styled godlings take control and the rest of us slowly realize we all now live in Bangkok —  without happy endings to content us.

Moore is Canadian and like most Canadians, his moral outrage stops just short of throwing the bomb — rather a shame that.

When I am in Bangkok, I sometimes observe Moore across a street or at some artist do. I no longer see in his face that little knowing smile he seemed to effect in the past. He now appears haunted as though he’s glimpsed the future and found only more hopelessness there … or perhaps a local godling has happened to read his book and begun to turn his hooded eyes in his direction.

Pookie says, “Check it out.”

Read Full Post »

tumblr_mp7sps2PRe1srvmuoo1_1280

Although I am traveling, I still manage to put in time reading novels. Recently I read Arturo Perez-Reverte’s latest. Perez-Reverte whose taut but lush adventure and mystery novels generally take place in Spain during its long sad decline from world empire until the old order was finally snuffed out by the armies of Napoleon. His series of books, featuring the melancholy but indomitable soldier and peerless swordsman Captain Alatriste, are classics.

The Siege, as its name implies, takes place during the interminable multi-year siege of Cadiz where the armies of Napoleon and his brother Joseph, the imposed King of Spain, had chased the government of the tattered empire and its inconsistent allies, the English. Cadiz, however still had access to the sea and many of its merchants, smugglers and privateers flourished even while the bombs daily rained down on parts of the city. The plot revolves around the attempts by the brutal and corrupt Chief of Police to solve a series of exceedingly vicious murders.

Unfortunately, Perez-Reverte introduces a sub-plot, a bodice ripper straight out of Danielle Steele — A romance between the dashing but crude and dangerous, curly-haired, handsome and muscular captain of a privateer, Pepe Lupo (Joe Wolf) and his employer, the refined, learned, capable, aristocratic, accomplished and almost beautiful owner of one of the city’s premier shipping companies, Lolita Palma. Lolita, virginal from to tip of her leather boots to the top of her lace mantilla, unfortunately, is 32 years old and unmarried. In the Cadiz of that time, at 32, she hovered between the twilight of fuckable and the onset spinsterhood. Perez-Reverte, damn him, shamelessly introduces a scene where Joe confronts Lolita at an elegant ball, causing her to snap open her fan and rapidly cool down the rising warmth of a blush.

“At least,” I thought, “he does not have the poor woman wet her drawers.” Alas, not more than a couple of dozen pages later, as Joe Wolf’s cutter heads off on another venture in legalized piracy, the still virginal Lolita, standing behind the crenellations of the tower above her Palacio and staring at the corsair’s ship as it disappears over the horizon, does just that. Arturo Perez-Reverte, you should be ashamed of yourself

Nevertheless,
Pookie says “check it out.”

“…all things have their allotted time in the suicidal order of things— in life, and in its inexorable outcome, death.”
Perez-Reverte, Arturo. The Siege: A Novel (p. 358). Random House Publishing Group.

Note: Reading this book makes me wonder if getting involved in the shithole that was Spain at that time was not as great a mistake for Napoleon as his march into Russia. It is usually the inability of empires to know their bounds that bring them to ruin. I wonder if that was the genius of Augustus Caesar; to recognize there were limits to the expansion of empire beyond the need to establish secure boundaries. It probably enabled the Roman Empire to survive for another 1000 years until the thugs of the Fourth Crusade finally put it out of its misery.

Read Full Post »

detectivejpg

Sometime in the late 60’s and continuing for a decade the Swedish husband and wife team of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö embarked on an ambitious scheme to write one mystery book a rear for ten years. The books were to be interconnected in a series called “The Story of Crime.”

Ruth turned me on to the series. Where most modern mystery stories over the past forty years generally feature a brilliant if somewhat odd sleuth who solves the mystery usually by either clever deduction or by the impact of his or her particular psychosis (for example by beating people up or getting drunk), these are stories about Swedish police detectives who solve cases using the routine that is the lot of most public employees. They get bored, sick with colds and have bad marriages. The criminals more often than not are sympathetic, driven to murder by social circumstances they cannot control and now and then they even get away with it.

Despite being over 40 years old, the novels grapple with issues pertinent today such as the militarization of policing, the social desperation that drives people to crime and the impact of replacing personal interaction between the police and the public with impersonal violence that begets even more violence resulting in the collapse of the morale of both.

“More and more often one was obliged to initiate an investigation by trying to sort out what the police had been up to. Not infrequently this proved harder than clearing up the actual case.”
Sjowall, Maj; Wahloo.The Locked Room: A Martin Beck Police Mystery (8).

My two favorite books in the series are The Laughing Policeman and The Abominable man.

Pookie says, “check them out.”

Read Full Post »

th-1

Like New York and a few other cities, Bangkok has been a treasure trove for stories about the city’s teeming underside. Even the city’s most fashionable hotel, The Oriental, has a wing dedicated to some of the world’s greatest novelists who resided there and wrote about Southeast Asia and the City astride the Chao Phraya River that sits at its center. Writers like Somerset Maugham, Graham Green, Joseph Conrad, and others all have suites in the hotel named for them.

That tradition remains alive today through such well-known authors as John Burdett, Stephen Leather, Timothy Hallinan, Colin Cotterill, Jake Needham, Colin Piprell and James Eckhardt.

Books by several Thai authors who also have deeply explored life in Thailand as well as Bangkok’s urban jungle have been translated into other languages. These include, “Mad Dog and Co.” by Chart Korbjitti (translated into English by Marcel Barang, himself an author of a novel set in Bangkok as well as the non-fiction, “Twenty Best Novels of Thailand”); “The Tin Mine by Archin Panchapan; “Sightseeing” by Rattawut Laparoensap; and “Jasmine Nights” by SP Somtow.

A best seller and a good read is “The Windup Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi, a science fiction novel that delves into Bangkok’s current and future problems with flooding. It was named one of the 10 best novels of 2009

But, by far my favorite Bangkok author is Christopher G. Moore. The protagonist in a good many of his most popular books is Vincent Calvino, a half Jewish half Italian ex-lawyer who for some mysterious reason gave up practicing law in New York to become a private eye in Bangkok.

Among his many books about Bangkok and the Thai urban scene, I like best “Waiting For the Lady.” Unlike most of his other novels, it is set not in Bangkok but in Burma.

Moore’s story swirls around the Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the Chin people of Burma and a young scholar specializing in the art of the mountain tribes of Southeast Asia who along with his two longtime artist friends living in Bangkok search for a hidden hoard of Ming China. The description of the day the country’s military government released Aung San Suu Kyi after 20 years of house arrest is worth the price of the book.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: