My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Insightful, entertaining and suspenseful - full of twists and turns and an array of fascinating and, at times, surprising characters.
American-Thai police detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep, son of a Bangkok prostitute and an unknown American, admirer of Western high-end fashion and French perfume, living in a windowless hovel because he's the last cop left not taking bribes, shows and explains to the farang (foreign Caucasian) reader the Thai culture (including Buddhism, prostitution, transsexuals, bribes, the need for workers to take meth, etc.) as well as giving us glimpses into Russian, American and Chinese cultures among others - all the while following the twisting clues that shall lead to solving the murder of the marine in the locked Mercedes by a load of snakes and avenge the death of his partner and soul brother, who was just slightly higher on his path to Buddhist enlightenment than Sonchai himself. The unusual element added are his Buddhist insights, his ability to sense people's previous lives and karma and figure out clues through meditation and avoiding the Western invention of logic.
A fresh perspective, with supposedly true observations about South East Asian life (as I've been told), inspiring contemplations about Western culture and Eastern spirituality and a page-turner of a story... I can't wait to read Bangkok Tattoo, the second book in the trilogy.