by John Burdett
With all the numerous plot elements that John Burdett juggles in his second installment with Royal Thai detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep, he keeps the action moving, the narration sizzling with insight and humor, and world events all in check. This outing starts with the murder of a CIA operative in post 9/11 Thailand. On the surface, he is murdered by a prostitute who just happens to work for Jitpleecheep's mother and his superior, Captain Vikorn.
However, nothing is quite so simple and in a world where money buys many things, Jitpleecheep finds himself torn between his disire to be a good Buddhist and his yearnings for Chanya, his prime suspect. He then has to balance that against the wishes of his boss and his mother.
At times graphic in his description of violence, Burdett does potray Thailand as a complex place with many conflicting values. While it might not be for everyone, Bangkok Tattoo will teach farang (foreigners) a thing or two about place while entertaining them with a series of twists and turns that are as indelible as the best tattooo.