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

4.1 out of 5 stars 98 customer reviews

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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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“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)

This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Series: Sonchai Jitpleecheep (Book 4)
  • 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: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #681,188 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sonchai Jipecheap #4: “The Godfather of Kathmandu” by John Burdett. The murder of a rich American filmmaker appears ritualistic, but a film discovered shows it was a suicide. Still, Sonchai isn’t satisfied, and won’t be until he solves the case. Working with him is Detective Sukum, who doesn’t like Sonchai, but wants a promotion. When the investigation leads to a rich Chinese woman of high education and power in Bangkok, Sukum isn’t too anxious to pursue the case further. In the meantime, a mysterious Tibetan religious man is offering forty million dollars worth of heroin to Vikorn and Zinna, as neither can come up with the case on their own. This means they will have to form a partnership in the transaction. To make matters worse, Vikorn, who is a fan of the American Godfather movies, makes Sonchair a consigliere. How can a true Buddhist stoop to such low deeds? This was another fascinating murder mystery in the worldly Bangkok.
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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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Format: Hardcover
I am a huge fan of the Burdett books. But I have to say that this is by far the weakest of the "Bangkok" quartet. And that is a pity, because the premise of this story could have made a much stronger book. Burdett got carried away with fatuous riffs on meditation in general and on Buddhism in particular. Plus the device of his hero speaking condescendingly to the reader as "farang" has become pretty tiresome. I am skeptical this book would have found a publisher if it was the author's first effort, instead of feeding a huge and loyal fan base's appetite for more "Bangkok murder mysteries". Burdett's Editor failed badly on this one - that red pen is sorely needed. I give 5 stars to Bangkok-8 and Bangkok-Tattoo, and 4 stars to Bangkok-Haunts. This one gets 2-plus . . . maybe 3-minus for the creativity of the plot. But a disappointing sequel overall.
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