John Burdett's Bangkok 8 is set in Thailand at the dawn of the 21st century and features a slightly neurotic, wildly creative Buddhist detective: Sonchai Jitpleecheep. Somebody's killed a U.S. marine--with snakes! You've got your Buddhist themes here; you've got your international intrigue; you've got a little bit of sexual tension and misadventure. And all those snakes! In other words, something for everyone. The Pacific Rim living on the edge!
Interestingly, The Coroner's Lunch is another Pacific Rim mystery, this one set in 1976 Laos, just after the revolution. Colin Cotterill's created another compelling crime-solver: Coroner Siri Palboun. As Siri sorts through a tangled web of unsolved killings, Cotterill paints a strange and colorful picture of post-revolutionary Laos. It's a wild world of Buddhist monks, party officials, policemen, Hmong villagers and many others--trying to sort out a new world of cynicism, orthodoxy and loss. Dr. Siri is a 72-year-old discovering new passion and ancient secrets--within his soul and beyond. A quick read, and a story of unexpected twists.
The Marriage Plot and In One Person are two of most insightful, earnest, human books I've read in a long while. What distinguishes them, for me, is the compassion of these writers for their characters. In both cases, it's truly extraordinary. Both writers (Jeffrey Eugenides and John Irving) believe in fiction and honor their own vocation in these stories. In the forward to his novel, Jeffrey Eugenides quotes Francios de La Rochefoucauld: "People would never fall in love if they hadn't heard love talked about." The Marriage Plot dives in, headlong, exploring the passion, vulnerability and courage of characters we come to know and recognize in intimate ways. Parts of ourselves walk the pages of this book. And they have things to show us, hopes to reveal, sadness to witness. The story begins at Brown University in the '80s and follows three students through their studies, their longings and their emerging adult choices. It's real.
Reading! What would summer be if not for books?! Enjoy the journey.