I realize that I jumped into this series at book #3, but that did not hurt my enjoyment of this fascinating story at all. I recently read The City and the City
by China Mieville, and the similarities are intriguing.
Like The City and The City this is at its core a hard-boiled murder mystery. However, while Mr. Mieville makes up the cultural and historical differences between two unique cities, Mr. Burdett simply contrasts the Thai world-view in Bangkok to that of the west. Perhaps this is a 3rd-person viewpoint of two similar, but different cities that are portrayed from the first-person perspective in The City and The City.
I really have no idea if half of what Mr. Burdett describes about the life, religion, society and philosophy is real, or fable, or completely made up, but I thought it made for a fascinating read. (I do plan to research some of it though, such as the Elephant Game.)
Bordering perhaps on Asian (Buddhist?) mysticism, there was still a real mystery to be solved, with all the usual suspects, informants, twists and politics. Sonchai Jitpleecheep (great name!) was the primary police investigator, and as one of the few honest men left in the police force, he presented an interesting character to lead us through the story.
The broad concept of money for sex filters through the story in many ways. There is even a fascinating article from the New York Times added as an appendix, and referenced by Sonchai early in the book. Erotica Inc.—a Special Report: Technology Sent Wall Street into Market for Pornography</ a>
A great read, and perhaps just a little too pulp for 5 stars, but I will be picking up the other books in this series.