Book Review

Book Review : “The Godfather of Kathmandu” by John Burdett.

Thai police detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep is summoned to investigate the most shocking murder of his career. Solving it could mean a promotion but, still reeling from a personal tragedy, Sonchai is more interested in Tietsin, an exiled Tibetan lama living in Kathmandu.

But there are obstacles in Sonchai’s path to enlightenment. Police Colonel Vikorn and Army General Zinna are at war again for control over Bangkok’s network of illegal enterprises – and Tietsin has forty million dollars’ worth of heroin for sale. With his life in increasing danger, Sonchai is put to the extreme test.

This is the fourth book that Burdett has written featuring Sonchai, but it is the first one that I’ve read. I think that if I had previous experience of the books I may have found this one a little easier to read. The plot of the murder is entwined with the drugs plot which has a subplot of Sonchai’s own quest for spiritual enlightenment. I personally found the murder plot line the most interesting, but this was the one that had the least coverage. I found the spiritual plot the least interesting, and did at times find myself scanning through it rather than reading it fully.

The character of Sonchai was quite confusing I found, but I feel that this was probably well crafted – he is a man caught up in grief who is trying to balance his personal quest to live a good life with the external influences of his boss Vikorn who is steering him to instead become more corrupt. I found Sonchai’s assistant Lek really interesting but sadly he didn’t get anywhere near as much coverage as I would have liked.

I personally found the style in which the book was written to be difficult to get to grips with. Sonchai narrates the book, but he switches between the present tense and the past tense when talking about different events. I am not a fan of books narrated in the present tense, but that is very much a personal preference and it would be wrong to criticise the book on these grounds. The story itself is well crafted and I’m sure there are many people who will find it hard to put down.

“The Godfather of Kathmandu” is published in paperback on 9th December 2010 by Corgi books in the UK. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.

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