At first, what happened on the Mekong River on October 5, 2011 seemed like a simple matter of rough frontier justice. A detachment of Thai military commandos reported that they had confronted a band of drug runners smuggling methamphetamines out of the Golden Triangle, the famously lawless borderlands between Burma, Laos, and Thailand. A gunfight ensued, the smugglers fled, and the commandos seized two barges and a haul of nearly a million pills. The story appeared to be over-until the bodies started washing ashore. There were thirteen of them, all Chinese merchant mariners-not hardened criminals. And they appeared to have been executed in cold blood.
It was the largest massacre of Chinese civilians outside of China in over half a century, and Beijing quickly named the culprit: Naw Kham, a mysterious former guerrilla warrior turned river pirate who had haunted the Golden Triangle for years. Regarded as a feared terrorist by some and a local Robin Hood by others, Naw Kham was undoubtedly a skilled criminal-but was he a mass murderer? In Murder on the Mekong, Jeff Howe travels to the scene of the crime that transfixed East Asia and finds a tale of adventure, deception, and political intrigue.
Reporting supported by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
©2013 Jeff Howe, The Atavist (P)2013 Jeff Howe, The Atavist
Recommended. Know what you're buying. The audiobook is about 1.5 hours long and the production values are perhaps below average. But the author reads the work himself and does a fine job. As someone else noted, this was originally a magazine article and therefore expect excellent investigative reporting instead of the depth of background and detail you would get from a long nonfiction book. That said, what you get is a fascinating story of murder, corruption, and the complicated economics of an outlaw region on borders of the civilized world. The tale the author pieces together reads like a James Ellroy novel come to life on the other side of the globe - if that sounds like your cup of tea, you'll enjoy this.
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