Select one of the keywords
Vulture Peak    by John Burdett order for
Vulture Peak
by John Burdett
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Vulture Peak follows Bangkok 8, Bangkok Tattoo, Bangkok Haunts, and The Godfather of Kathmandu as the fifth in John Burdett's exceptional series starring Royal Thai Police Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep, who steadily struggles to keep his soul afloat in a sea of official corruption.

Vulture Peak, 'a stately pleasure dome high on a hill in Phuket overlooking the Andaman Sea', is the scene of a triple homicide in which the victims' organs appear to have been harvested - Police Colonel Vikorn appoints Sonchai as lead investigator. He soon learns that the Colonel is running for election (with the help of American PR consultants) as governor of Bangkok - why? It seems that the Colonel's main rival, General Zinna, is in the organ trafficking business, and now Vikorn chooses to be seen leading a law and order campaign against it. Vikorn even gives Sonchai a black Amex, so that he can play the role of wealthy organ trafficker as he infiltrates the illicit market.

As Sonchai begins travelling the globe (to Phuket, Hong Kong, Dubai, Shanghai, and Monte Carlo) he meets the impeccably bizarre (and psycho) female Chinese twins known as the Vultures. Meanwhile, his lover Chanya struggles with her Ph.D. thesis on prostitution in Thailand. Actually the thesis is not a problem for her, but rather she struggles with her farang supervisor. Burdett has great fun with this as he shows Chanya tossing Dorothy into the deep end of the Bangkok sex scene. There the farang feminist begins to believe 'in the re-empowerment of woman through inversion of the public imaginary of the brothel as exclusively male playground.'

Sonchai's transsexual work partner Lek looks into the General Zinna angle to the case. We learn that Zinna's 'latest beautiful boy' now looks like a monster after a car accident that was Zinna's fault, and that though the general bought him a new face, it didn't take well. Other players in this disturbing puzzler include bipolar Hong Kong cop Chan and a strong spirited, vulnerable Thai whore named Om. After the tension builds to a crescendo of an ending worthy of a Shakespearian tragedy, Sonchai makes his peace with Chanya, who has suspicions of his attraction to Om.

As always, Burdett masterfully blends the grotesque and the spiritual, while making clear to farang readers the many ways in which we of the West fail to understand the East. Vulture Peak is not to be missed by thriller fans or anyone who wishes to learn more about organ transplants and organ trafficking.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Mystery books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews