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The Godfather of Kathmandu (Sonchai Jitpleecheep, Book 4) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 12, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The vivid portrait of 21st-century Thailand in part redeems the meandering plot of Burdett's fourth thriller to feature corrupt Bangkok police detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep (after Bangkok Haunts). Jitpleecheep, a marijuana-smoking Buddhist whose marriage collapsed after his young son's death, investigates the peculiar murder of Frank Charles, a Hollywood director who regularly visited Thailand to sample the sexual delights offered by its young women. Someone disemboweled Charles, then cut his skull open and dined on his brains. Among the victim's books at the crime scene are The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. Too much musing on spiritual awakenings and Tibetan philosophy as well as commentary on mundane details of daily life distract from the search for Charles's killer and a related subplot involving the heroin-smuggling operation controlled by Jitpleecheep's boss, Colonel Vikorn. Hopefully, Burdett will regain his usual narrative snap next time. (Oct.)
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“Pick up The Godfather of Kathmandu the day it hits the stands, and block out several hours to read it in one sitting. Once you start, you won’t get anything else done until you finish it . . . I pity any Mystery of the Month contender who has to go up against John Burdett; it is almost as if they should consider releasing their books in a different month . . . Burdett has both the chops and the history to be a strong contender every time he turns out a new book, and The Godfather of Kathmandu is no exception.”
Bookpage (Mystery of the Month)
“Sonchai Jitlpleecheep has leapfrogged the field, vaulting from cult favorite to just possibly the most compelling crime-fiction hero in the genre. His fourth adventure, even more than its predecessors, is overstuffed with a dizzying array of multifaceted storylines, all of which exude both the moral ambiguity and the cognitive dissonance that have become this series’s hallmarks . . . Burdett juggles the various plots with great dexterity . . . A whirlwind of a novel.”
Booklist (starred)
“A blissfully nutty caper that brings back fond memories of the late lamented Ross Thomas’s crazy-quilt crime fiction . . . Distinguishing crooks from good guys is only one of the pleasures [here] . . . Sonchai’s wry narrative voice (think: exotic Philip Marlowe) keeps us hooked.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (January 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307263193
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307263193
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Burdett is the author of A Personal History of Thirst, The Last Six Million Seconds, Bangkok 8, and Bangkok Tattoo.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Ralph White on January 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Below the whimsical and irreverent surface of John Burdett's new novel lies the very lifelike real world of a Thai cop. We have met his protagonist, Sonchai, before and if you liked him in his last incarnations, you will love him in this one. We see Sonchai at street level, bereaved over the death of his son, whacked out on pot, and trying to get his boss, Colonel Vikorn, to make this last huge heroin shipment the last one so his spirit can find peace. Sonchai sees himself as his boss' consigliore, the counterpart to Hagen in the Godfather films. But where Don Corleone stopped short of dealing drugs on principle, Colonel Vikorn sees it as a competitive necessity. For womenfolk we have the usual slutty detritus of Soi Nana, to which Burdett adds Rosie, the Australian mule. We might as well add Sonchai's transsexual partner, Lek, to the female dramatis personae. This latest version of the Sonchai chronicles veers slightly off the path of the earlier versions with the addition of the Tibetian freedom-fighting, drug kingpin Tietsin.

Burdett's depiction of the seamy Thai underworld is spot on, as is his description of the street scene in Kathmandu. He has Norman Mailer's knack of understanding what's truly happening amidst the bustle of normal daily life, and he has Joseph Wambaugh's capacity to capture the humor amidst the violence. Some armchair Buddhists will find Burdett's irreverence grating, but the life of a cop in a freak show like Bangkok is not about achieving higher levels of understanding. It's about finding out who cut the fat Hollywood mogul's stomach open, leaving his guts spilling out over his hotel sheets. And you must be patient, Farang, to give the story time to unfold.
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40 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Deborah V VINE VOICE on January 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Having spent considerable time in Bangkok in 2008, I became an instant fan of John Burdett's Sonchai Jitpleecheep mysteries due to their intricate plots, fascinating characters, and references to buildings, landmarks, streets, and parks in Bangkok, Thailand. Reading his books makes me feel as though I'm back on the crowded, bustling streets that make up this city.

In this book, Sonchai is involved in a murder concerning a famous Hollywood director who would come to Bangkok to partake in the the "delights" of the young women of the street. His death was somewhat patterned after the book The Silence of the Lambs (Hannibal Lector) which happens to also be in possession.

Sonchai Jitpleecheep is a complex indivdual who has a hard bitten approach to his job, but is also inside a gentle follower of Buddha. He is the half-caste son of a prostitute and an American GI. His boss on the force is Colonel Vikorn who is also a drug dealer. In Bangkok, where everything is for sale, Sonchai tracks the killer, navigates his promotion by Col. Vikorn to his consigliere (the Colonel has been studying the Godfather DVD's), and does what he needs to do with Colonel Vikorn's ongoing battle with General Zinna over who heads the illegal trades.

If you have read the prior three books, Bangkok 8: A Novel, Bangkok Tattoo, and
...Read more ›
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By James Speck on March 20, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've been more than favorably impressed with Burdetts' previous three books. They were rich in everything I seek in a detective thriller. I'd give five stars to all of them, recommended them to friends and purchased gift copies. This one has too many arch comment 4th wall breakins, a wandering plot, unexciting characters and an uninspired, barely believable finish. It feels like the outline of what could have been an interesting and exciting story.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By T. Eagan on March 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Sonchai the Thai detective has introduced us to another side of Thailand with great humor, and I think quite a deal of compassion. The first book in the series (Bangkok 8: A Novel) was utterly original, with a great story, and even greater humor. Sonchai has grown since then, but some of the originality is unavoidably lost on the way. In this book, the author moves some focus to Nepal, perhaps partly to keep being fresh. It only works partly for me. Sonchai is still a great figure whom I care about and want to read about, but the story is thinner than in the previous books. The humor is still here though, and like all of Burdett's books, it made me want to read the next.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Klein on February 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I love Sonchai Jitpleecheep, but you cannot go romping through the brothels and food stalls of Bangkok with someone who has just lost his six year old son in an automobile accident. It just does not work emotionally and makes everything else seem false. In one of the earlier novels a previous incarnation of Pichai as Sonchai's brother and soul mate is actually a character in the novel and appears in dreams to give him tips to solve the crime. That worked just fine, but a son is a different order of grief. At one point in this novel, Sonchai sees a boy his dead son's age and breaks down. He thinks to himself, "How to explain at times like this that it is not merely grief that gnaws my guts, but Tietsin's mantra as well?"

On no! It doesn't matter the religion or culture, Burdett must not be acquainted with anyone who has lost a child. Some mantra from a nutty Tibeten is more on Sonchai's mind then mere grief for the death of his son? Sonchai keeps telling us that the Tietsin was so impressive and took over his mind, but Burdett does not succeed in making that impression on the reader. The Tietsin encounter seems kind of campy and ridiculous.

Another thing that bothered me was Burdett's overuse of the farang expression. I enjoyed the cultural observations in the earlier novels. They were interesting and informative. Here he seems to be carping, and it is every other sentence. The three earlier Jitpleecheep novels are really good. Skip this one. Let us hope Burdett will regain his light touch in the future.
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