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A Good Death Hardcover – February 19, 2013
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*Starred Review* Cox’s first novel sneaks up on the reader. It begins with PI Sebastian Damon winning an assignment to investigate the death in Bangkok of a Laotian refugee who made her way to the U.S. and ultimately became vice president of a Boston bank. Her life insurer thinks the claim is fishy and sends Damon to find her. Against long odds in teeming Bangkok, and with the help of Sam Honeyman, an American Vietnam vet expat, he does. But the woman, Linda Watt, explains to them that her father was a U.S. pilot during the Vietnam War and that he may still be alive in the wild Laotian mountains. Her life-insurance scam was to finance buying his freedom. So begins a story that channels Conrad, Kipling, and Francis Ford Coppola. Damon, Honeyman, and Watt, pursued by a crooked Bangkok cop who helped Linda fake her death but then blackmailed her, begin a perilous odyssey to a region few westerners have seen since the war. Simply workmanlike at the outset, A Good Death becomes an insightful, transcendent adventure. Cox, who has traveled Asia for three decades, creates a vivid sense of place, ties his characters’ rich backstories to the tragic war, and illuminates the current plight of Laotian hill tribes. A Good Death is another example of the only positive to emerge from the Vietnam War—fine writing. --Thomas Gaughan
“A story that channels Conrad, Kipling, and Francis Ford Coppola… An insightful, transcendent adventure. Cox, who has traveled Asia for three decades, creates a vivid sense of place, ties his characters’ rich backstories to the tragic war, and illuminates the current plight of Laotian hill tribes. A Good Death is another example of the only positive to emerge from the Vietnam War―fine writing.” ―Booklist, starred review
“Cox's action-packed debut is perfect for armchair travelers who will be amazed by the author's ability to make gaudy Bangkok and the remote hill country of Laos come alive... Award-winning journalist Cox puts his travel writing skills to good use in a book that is perfect for fans of Tim Hallinan and Hilary Davidson.” ―Library Journal, starred review
“Intrigue aplenty… Throughout it all, veteran journalist Cox's first novel gradually and expertly turns up the heat, doling out the exotic details by careful teaspoons early on before plunging Sebastian into a world far from his comfort zone. A debut thriller whose predominant tone, as its title suggests, is a profound sadness that no death, not even for an insurance company's client, is a good death.” ―Kirkus
“Those fond of exotic foreign locales will welcome journalist Cox's mystery debut, set in Southeast Asia… Vivid descriptive prose.” ―Publishers Weekly
“If you didn't already know it, you'd swear Christopher R. Cox was an experienced traveler and journalist, due to the evocative and often haunting descriptions of the far-flung locales of his debut mystery novel, A Good Death…. Cox impressively and skillfully incorporates Sebastian's past with the events leading him to Bangkok in the opening chapters. Along the way, and throughout the book, the author treats us to wonderfully effective and sensory-filled descriptions of the areas.” ―Bookgasm.com
“A first rate mystery, beautifully crafted, fast-paced, and populated with the most vivid (and at times seamy) characters. But what lifts this novel way above most others are the exquisitely realized settings, from sizzling Bankok nightclubs to the deep, suffocating jungles of Laos. A bravura debut!” ―Douglas Preston, #1 bestselling co-author of the Pendergast series of novels
“A Good Death takes readers into the wild, wild east of Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos--and keeps them there with an engaging mystery, told by compelling, complex characters. Like its exotic locales, Mr. Cox's vibrant, colorful, and crisp prose will capture your attention from beginning to the end.” ―Loung Ung, national bestselling author of First They Killed My Father
“Memorable characters riding a high-speed roller coaster of a plot against a backdrop that drips with the seductive scents and images of Southeast Asia--Cox's debut novel proves him to be a masterful storyteller.” ―Eliot Pattison, Edgar-Award winning author of Mandarin Gate
“Christopher R. Cox blends grit, heart, and a reporter's eye to create unforgettable characters and a haunting story. He brings Bangkok alive in detail that will make you feel you've walked its perilous streets yourself. A Good Death is a great debut!” ―Steve Ulfelder, Edgar-nominated author of The Whole Lie
Top customer reviews
I'm still trying to get my mind back into my real life after being lost in this book with the main character, Sebastian Damon, a somewhat cynical Boston P.I. who takes a job that moves him from Boston into the bowels of Bangkok as he chases the truth behind a death benefit claim for an insurance company. Action and connections move him further into the dark shadows of SE Asia as he finds layers of truth. The veneer of superficial first impressions is slowly stripped from the characters as one travels with them to places few have seen. This story unfolds in a way that makes sense, continues to pick up speed and invites the reader to ask all along the way, What really happened? What don't I know? How can this possibly be resolved? How far will they go to know?
I quickly knew I would need to fully engage with this intelligently written story in order to catch all that the author had prepared for me. I did and I wasn't disappointed.