“Bangkok Wet” – by Simon Royle

Cover ImageThe rains are here and Bangkok is flooding, but the big wet isn’t going to prevent a gang war. As the waters rise, so do the stakes. Chance returns to showcase Thailand’s underbelly in the electrifying sequel to Bangkok Burn.

After a small job to rough-up a rival family’s wayward son derails, Chance Paknam and his family find themselves in another volatile situation. In the first novel, the author pounded the reader with adrenaline-fueled action. In Bangkok Wet, he has managed the impossible and cranked it up another notch. After a messy opening, we encounter deaths, weddings, abductions, manipulations and double-dealing, mystery antagonists, explosions, police corruption, unexpected revelations and my personal favourite, crocodiles.

The fact that this all takes place in Bangkok during the infamous 2011 floods, adds a currency and a freshness to this explosive gangster thriller.

It’s difficult to pick fault with this story. I think it’s everything it needed to be to seize and maintain my attention. There were no dull pauses and although the action was frenetic and exhausting I never felt like I had had enough. I devoured the book in a couple of sittings, which is a pretty good indication that the story worked very well for me.

My favourites are back in this novel and nearly all are anti-heroes. The author left the model citizens out which only made the experience more delicious.

Chance features again and he’s sympathetic for an anti-hero. Just like in the first book, I was cheering for him the whole way. I like a protagonist that is allowed to make mistakes and Chance makes his fair share. For much of the book he and his smart and powerful family are being played. Chance becomes the boxing bag of our mystery antagonist and he certainly takes a beating. However, he remains charming and smooth even while looking (and feeling) like Hell. What’s not to like?

Chance’s adopted parents feature more heavily in this story. We see his “mother”, Mere Joom take a much more active role. She is still very much the voice at the other end of the phone, but in this story she spends some time in the spotlight proving that she’s as good at using a weapon as she is at using her extensive criminal network. I was smitten with this character in the first novel so it was a delight to see her take a bigger role.

Chai, Chance’s bodyguard is omni-present again in this novel. He plays the part of a very faithful dog, if that dog was a trained commando, and he is the main reason Chance survives more than a dozen pages at any given time in the book. He continues to provide a good foil for the slick, decidedly less military Chance.

I really can’t complain about any of the characters. Whether they play smaller roles or are central to the story, all display an obvious personality. It adds a welcome vibrancy to the storytelling.

In the first novel, one of my few concerns was that I wasn’t totally sold on the attempt to give a Thai feel to the language of the narrative. Although a clever idea, I felt that it had a negative (albeit small) impact to the flow. Not so in this novel. I either didn’t notice it – or it wasn’t there.

There was still a conversational element to the style of the narrative which I quite liked. Chance would talk to me, condescending with a “…you farang…” qualification here and there, reminding me that I am an outsider permitted but a glance into Chance’s world. I loved this approach, and being talked down to didn’t rankle at all. It was fitting – and it worked.

I can’t wait to read the next book of this series. The author left me on a cliff-hanger and I simply must find out what happens next. I know not all readers like cliff-hanger endings so there may be a justification there to wait until the next book is released before reading this one.

Otherwise, for those who like non-stop action and mayhem in a very real setting, observing a Thailand very different from the holiday brochures, I say dive into Bangkok Wet. You won’t regret it.

Rating: 5/5

Price at the time of review: $4.99 US

Available: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Kobo, Diesel, iTunes and more…

Author site: http://www.simon-royle.com/
GoodReads page: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17313741-bangkok-wet/

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