Calvino And Moore Are Better Than Ever!
I am typing this article up today for a number of reasons.
Mostly I’m doing it because well-known expatriate author Christopher G. Moore is a friend of mine and I have been nothing other than completely addicted to his Vincent Calvino mystery series since I first bought and utterly enjoyed the first novel in the series, “Spirit House”, back in 1992. This novel got me hooked at once on Chris’ incredible writing skills. When I get back to my home of Chiang Mai after being here in China or back home in the United States, one of my first “missions” is to get to Suriwong Books or Asia Books to pick up the latest Calvino novel.
I’m also doing this review of Chris’ current story, “Jumpers”, because while I do know that many expats such as myself are junkies for the PI from NYC living for over twenty years in Bangkok along notorious Sukhumvit, there are more-than-likely lots of potential readers who DON’T know Chris Moore or Vinnie Calvino and some of them are probably constant readers of Stickman’s fantastic website that covers Thailand in a style few others can honestly claim to.
Chris was pleased when I got a copy of “Jumpers” via the super-helpful crew at Asia Books in their branch at the Airport Central Mall in Chiang Mai and then enjoyed the hell out of reading it.
He politely asked if I’d do a review of it on Amazon.com and I was all set to do this as I HAVE done OTHER reviews on Amazon before. However, nowadays you need to have purchased an item from Amazon with a credit card in order to be allowed to do a review for starters. As I DON’T have a credit card, I was out with Amazon but decided to send in a review via Stickman so here we are!
“Jumpers” is one of those novels that at once gets one’s full concentration the very moment they open it up and start reading Chapter 1.
As those of us who have lived in Thailand long enough well know, the term “jumper” is a word that we can all relate to because very much in Bangkok and Pattaya as well as my home of Chiang Mai once in a while, it usually isn’t all that long before you go through the Local News of The Bangkok Post or The Nation where you read about how a farang man was discovered nice-and-dead after going over the side of a multi-storied building in one of the bigger cities of the kingdom. The Big Mystery here is that often it’s a matter of the farang man NOT being suicidal and/or the person calling in his “jump” to the tamruat is often his ‘ying Thai tilac who’s supposedly loved that farang dearly but the majority of the people at the “crash-site” are generally rather dubious about this particular little “factoid”.
“Jumpers” begins with our main character Calvino trying to make the best som tam dinner for a lovely Thai date and is having trouble in doing so when he is informed that a good Canadian expat friend of his is dead in that expat’s own flat. Calvino hurries over to try and deal with this depressing fact which is when he gets dragged into an affair of paintings that his Canadian friend had done as a successful artist, paintings that several elements want for all the wrong reasons.
One of those elements is a Chinese individual who is a major-league person not only in name and power but also in running a criminal syndicate that comes down real hard on Calvino and his Thai / expat friends because he wants the paintings all to himself and refuses to take any kind of no for an answer.
In other words, Calvino has gone from a disastrous dinner date to the death site of a good friend who died under illogical terms after said friend didn’t do as the director of a Chinese criminal organization ordered him to do.
What works best for me with “Jumpers” is watching Chris take Calvino in a direction that takes the half-Italian / half-Jewish private eye from being his usual self into someone no longer a humorous man but rather a man you really DON’T want to fxxk around with, a kind of “Dirty Harry” outlook that works splendidly with Calvino as he deals with the Chinese thugs. None of the Calvino books are bad but this is the first time in years that Calvino has been this brutal when he gets pushed around in ways that really shouldn’t happen to begin with. The description of Bangkok at the end of one chapter alone is worth the full-price of this instant classic!
Because Chris and his publishing company–Heaven Lake Press–no longer sell his novels in stores directly as he always did before, you must either use a credit card or–as in my case–get a bookstore to order it for you as Asia Books so kindly did for me.
Either way, I highly suggest this book to ANY readers of Stickman who HAVEN’T read Calvino before and DO want to get a stupendously realistic yet entertaining glimpse of expat life (AND DEATH) in modern-day Bangkok.
I can all-but-promise that neither Vincent Calvino nor Chris Moore will let you down in this right-now legend straight out of Krung Thep, the City of Questionable Angels!
Chris Moore is truly the granddaddy of Bangkok fiction and while I have given up on Bangkok expat fiction, I still read Moore. Chris has an eerily accurate feel for Bangkok and an extraordinary understanding of the local people and culture. I think what separates Chris’s Bangkok expat fiction from everyone else is that his novels wouldn’t work elsewhere. You could not change Sukhumvit Road to Oxford Street or 5th Avenue, nor could you rename Somchai to Samuel. I absolutely endorse what you say about Chris’s books and I too and a big fan!