Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Unfaithful Lady

“The Unfaithful Lady” by Charles Pettit (Charles Pettit McIlvaine, Protestant Bishop Episcopal Church, US). Set in China, the elegant infidelities of Madame Li Pei Fou: Written and originally published in 1928, this edition was reprinted by AVON in 1948. Bored by her husband’s lack of romantic attention, when he leaves on an extended trip, she sets her eyes on young men in the household to form a tryst. Unable to resist her charms, they still must worry about a terrible death should the master of the house discover the infidelities. Written by a Protestant Bishop in 1928, the story is quite tame to something written today. A boy we will come to know as Grain of Rice becomes instantly captivated, but should he find comfort in her arms, or find romance with someone less dangerous.  Great cover, and a fun read, though a bit dated. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bangkok 8

Sanchai Jipecheap #1: “Bangkok 8” by John Burdett. Bangkok detectives, Sanchai Jipecheap and Pichai Aparidee are following a black American Marine, William Bradley under orders from Colonel Vikorn, but they don’t know why. They lose track of the embassy marine several times in the heavy Bangkok traffic, once when he picks up a girl somewhere, and finally when they have to radio in asking for traffic to report the position of the marine’s car when seen. They are soon notified that the car has been reported stopped under a bridge, and proceed to that location. Arriving, they watch a group of Khmer gangsters leave on motorcycles while locals are gathered around the car. Inside, they see a huge python wrapped around the marine’s neck, and there are blocks in the door, locking them shut. Pichai shoots through the window killing the snake, and then works the door open and pulls Bradley out. Unnoticed by the police detectives there are over a dozen cobras also in the car, many within the sergeant’s clothing; one bites Pichai in the eye. Sanchai shoots the rest of the snakes, but it’s already too late for his partner. The girl is not in the car.
Wow. If we could give more than a 5-Star rating, this book would easily get a 6-Star review. Not only is the narrative and dialogue enjoyable, the writing is excellent: smooth, tight, fast, and a page-turner. Bangkok is a city of prostitutes and corrupt police; the main source of economy is the sex trade. The author shows us the streets and bars, and seedy atmosphere of the city, yet we never see a sex scene, and the profanity is few in this 431-page novel. The mystery is topnotch, and the characters three-dimensional. There is some violence, but again, it’s about the story, not the violence. For iexample, Sanchai and FBI agent, Kimberly Jones attend a Muay Thai boxing tournament, but arrive at the end of the bout. We do learn the real story behind Muay Thai martial arts (not the regulated sport), which was very interesting.
Sanchai and Pichai were the only incorruptible police in District 8, maybe all of Bangkok, for that matter. With Pichai now dead, that leaves only Sanchai unblemished. Sanchai is a half-breed, half Thai, half white-American: His mother is a prostitute, and during the Vietnam War, American soldiers often came to Bangkok for R&R. He never knew his father. They had married, and he took her to the states, but his family did not approve of her, so she returned to Thailand to raise her son, often living with other men, while Sanchai learned the hard facts of life. But he feels a need to find the murderer of his dear friend, and vows vengeance, sensing it favorable in Buddha’s teaching. But he soon learns there is more to the case than even he can imagine, and it will engulf Southeast Asia and America. This is a novel hard to put down, and definitely a fun read.

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Glass Cipher

The Adjusters #4: “The Glass Cipher” by Peter Winston. The Adjusters work for International Adjusters Division, run by rich Edgar White Whittle (A-1), who has businesses worldwide. His agents operate through the organization. They have no connection to any government body, and answer only to their boss. The plot is merely window dressing, unfortunately, as Peter Winston, alias agent A-2 is sent to London to make contact with someone who is bringing a message out of China. EWW has a glass that can read certain code, but only this special glass, nothing else can read it. Winston carries the glass with him, as he beds all the beautiful sexy women throughout the story. There are some fights, and Winston gets a couple bumps on his head, but he’s strong, and muscled, and tough, and can win through anything. Nothing can stop him, except a beautiful woman. The sex isn’t descriptive like in most men’s adventure novels, but he’s in bed during most of the book, which makes me say the plot is merely window dressing for the story. There are plenty of lovely English girls, plus the Chinese delegation has a lovely China Doll with them, and naturally she ends up in his bed a few times. Does he ever find the message, and get to use the wonderful glass to decipher the coded message? Well, read the story and find out. Really, it struck me more like Doc Savage saving the world (except for all the sex), than a real spy novel, so just read it for the adventure, and a few laughs. The dialogue was pretty lame, as well. However, you will easily kill a few hours reading an odd spy novel. It is truly a bit of fun, in an oddball sort of way.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Secret Mission To Bangkok

Colonel North #20: “Secret Mission To Bangkok” by Van Wick Mason. The plane from Hong Kong to Bangkok, Thailand, carried a variety of personages. Colonel North, of Army G-2 was interested in one man however, Hans Bracht who was traveling incognito as Harry Barrows. Bracht was a rocket scientist on America’s Project Galaxy program. His wife, the beautiful Tao Muong was missing, and suspected of being kidnapped by the Reds to get the scientist in their hands. North was there to see they didn’t. Someone on the plane may be the Red handing the kidnapping: Miss Lita Naline, a Hollywood star of mysterios background; Mr. Anton Carss, Hollywood producer; Mr. John Wallen, another Hollywood actor; Mr. Lex Ross, a Hollywood actor who once had been a Red agent; Millionaire Chu Hoong, a big shot businessman in Bangkok; M. Georges Marchet, a Frenchman now of South Vietnam, and drug addict; Fraulein Mary Hollberg of West Berlin; and Mr. Boris Salenkov of Moscow. It was up to Colonel North to protect Bracht, and unmask the Red agent. The story was a bit slow, as we’re introduced to all the suspects, and though things are happening, Colonel North doesn’t do too much until the climax. But it’s a slam-bang ending, with a air fight between plans when the Red agent tries to flee to North Vietnam with Bracht. There are actually two mysteries in the story, the second interfering with the first, mudding the waters for the G-2 operative.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Secret Mission: North Korea

Secret Mission #8: “North Korea” by Don Smith. Phillip Sherman, an American computer expert is in Japan to sell computers, is arrested in a bar when his drinking partner kills a girl that stole his wallet. Unknown to Sherman, the guy was employed by the CIA to take a boat into North Korean waters with a bomb on board. Now his old CIA buddy, Ross McCullough tells him he’ll take care of his arrest, but Sherman must take the ship now that the other man is facing trial for murder.  The mission fails as soon as they near North Korea, as a stowaway girl was a spy working for the North, and they were expected. But she didn’t know about the bomb, and when it goes off, Sherman and one of his men, accompanied by the girl, escape. They don’t get far, and are captured again by Pak Kuk Chung. He has a harem of Blonde Scandinavian women in a fortress guarded by well-armed Koreans.  He served the Japanese in WWII as Colonel Ozaki, a Japanese born in Korea,; he was known as Po Sung Chul during the Korean War. He forces Sherman to contact the CIA, requesting amnesty for his war crimes in turn for their release. In a coded reply, Sherman knows Ozaki will not receive amnesty, and they plan an escape from the stronghold. This was another good story featuring the non-CIA agent, who seems to be caught up in the agency’s secret missions. A fun read.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Macao Mayhem

Crown #2. Macao Mayhem by Terry Harknett. Hong Kong is a hot bed of secrets, and a new gang is using prostitutes and call girls to gather information. Senior Superintendent John Crown and his partner, karate champ Chang Po are assigned the case. When a call girl Crown had helped before turns up dead, they quickly discover there may be something bigger in the works. It’s a case that may involve the Chinese and an American diplomat. The investigation takes them from Hong Kong to Macao. This is the second of the three novels featuring the pair of Hong Kong investigators. Although the third novel is the best in the series, this one has a lot of humor, but not so much of the karate action. Still, a fun story with lots of other action.