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.