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Bangkok Tattoo

Narrated by: Paul Boehmer
Series: Sonchai Jitpleecheep Series, Book 2
Length: 11 hrs and 24 mins
4 out of 5 stars (336 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the author of the best seller Bangkok 8, a head-spinning new novel that puts us back in the company of the inimitable Royal Thai Police detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep.  

We return to District 8, the underbelly of Bangkok's underworld, where a dramatically mutilated dead body is found. It's bad: he was CIA. It gets worse: the murderer appears to be Chanya, a tough, sweet working girl who's the highest earner at The Old Man's Club, jointly owned by Sonchai's mother and his boss, Police Colonel Vikorn. 

Alerted by Sonchai, Vikorn quickly concocts a cover-up that involves Al Qaeda and Thailand's porous southern border where, since 9/11, the CIA has been an obviously covert presence. But the truth will be harder to come by, and it will require Sonchai to find an ever-more-delicate balance between his ambition and his Buddhism, while running the gamut of Bangkok's drug dealers, prostitutes, bad cops, worse military, and the pitfalls of his own melting heart (Chanya!), most of which he can handle. But even Sonchai is not prepared for what he discovers at the end of his investigation. 

Piercingly smart and funny, densely atmospheric, and, as we already know to expect from John Burdett, packing a surprise at every turn, Bangkok Tattoo is sensational.

©2005 John Burdett (P)2005 Books on Tape, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“An original, imaginative thriller.... Burdett writes like a dark angel.” (Chicago Tribune)

“You will read on and on, with wide-eyed fascination, some horror...and considerable delight.... If you’re looking for a good time, look no further.” (The Washington Post Book World)

“Mesmerizing: a comic tour of the underbelly of Bangkok in pursuit of both a murderer and the sublime.” (The New Yorker)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • S. Horn
  • Cary, NC, United States
  • 08-22-05

Unforgettable

Bangkok Tattoo is probably the most compelling book I've encountered in the nearly three years I've been an Audible listener. It is a great many contradictory things: violent, compassionate, graphic, delicate, sexual, sensual, spiritual, surreal, earthy, funny at times, horrible at others, extremely well written and well read. The character development is superb, and the portrait of Bangkok is fascinating. It's an incredible read. Audible offers Burdett's Bangkok 8 (the first of this series) only in an abridged version, so I bought a hardcopy so that I could experience every word. I was not disappointed.

I'm not sure where the other reviewers are coming from. Perhaps it's a matter of morality. Burdett makes no judgments. Bangkok is presented "as is," as are the characters. Prostitutes, corrupt police officials, transexuals, madams, American tourists, most of whom are men who come to Bangkok specifically for sexual purposes--all of these are presented, not sympathetically, but as human beings rather than as caricatures.

I cannot recommend this book too highly, and I urge Audible to find an unabridged version of Bangkok 8 for us, as well. BTW, although Bangkok 8 is a precursor to this book, it is not necessary to have read it first. There are a few things you will not know, but each book stands on its own--a moving experience that will haunt you long after you've finished it.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

One of the Better Ones

I listened to this on the strength of someone recommending Bankok 8 which I listened to later. I found this to be superior and thoroghly enjoyed both. If you ever thought of going to Thailand this is a must. Themes helped put our western morality judgments in perspective. The narration is great.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Bruce
  • Great Mills, MD, USA
  • 07-26-06

Very well done

Overall the book was excellent in its vision of a part of Thai culture that is not usually reported or understood outside of the country. Having lived there for several years it was obvious to me that the author knows his subject well. The plot suffers a little at the end, but that does not diminish the story greatly. My only issue is that narrator mispronounces several Thai words and phrases. This will not bother most readers unless they speak Thai. A good book!.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

a wild ride

This audio book kept me riveted from beginning to end. The author so clearly knows his subject and I didn't mind the occasional sermonizing one bit. It doesn't mean I agree with everything he says, but it's nice to occasionally get a different point of view. Like Bangkok 8, the story gets a bit baroque towards the end, but that's a minor quibble. If you want to learn something about a different culture and be entertained at the same time, this book is for you.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Enjoyable Book

I really enjoyed listening to this book. The narrator was excellent, and made the characters really come alive! The storyline is engaging, and the book is very funny.

The author sometimes makes some harsh statements about westerners, but I generally found the contrasts between Thai and American/Western worldviews and culture to be really interesting.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Pretty good pulp

I read Bangkok 8 previously and enjoyed it a bit more. This one drags and gets messy at the end. I also feel like the author forgot the thrust of his main character, that of a strict Buddhist negotiating a contrary life/career. Other than at one point saying he doesn't take bribes there's none of the internal conflict that I found compelling in the first book. That seemed to balance out the sermonizing of the Western way, which in this book is completely unfettered.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Gene
  • Miami Beach, FL, United States
  • 09-10-12

Great Read

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Very fun read. Decent plot and many funny moments. I rate it marginally higher than Bangkok 8, which I also liked.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Joyce
  • Washougal, WA, United States
  • 04-04-10

Bangkok Tattoo

I find the John Burdett books a great listen. Paul Boehmer is an excellent narrator.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Love the series

I love the series, and was so disappointed when I started with library copies of the audio books and found there were only a few available. Really excited to find this on Audible and jumped right in. Maybe I missed too many books between my last read and this one, but I wasn't as into the main character as I have been. Weird ending, without much purpose to the horror scene. I'll continue to read John Burdett, to see if this is just a one-off.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Good but a bit on the graphic side

What did you like best about Bangkok Tattoo? What did you like least?

I liked the cultural insight and diverse perspective this novel (and this series) provides. I enjoyed learning more about Thai culture from a non western perspective. This novel calls for introspection about the beliefs that westerners have about many aspects of Asian and specifically Thai culture and thus promotes an interesting thought journey so to speak.

What didn't I like about this book? This book spends so so so much time justifying the sex industry in Thailand. While I am not opposed to listening to such arguments I just felt like this endless and shameless proselytizing detracted from the plot and character development.
Additionally, I felt like the novel lacked female perspective. With a male author and first person male perspective how can one truly hope to capture the female perspective about the ever prevalent prostitution that goes on in Bangkok.

If you’ve listened to books by John Burdett before, how does this one compare?

I enjoyed John Burdett's first novel in this series, "Bangkok 8". this book was not quite as good.

Was Bangkok Tattoo worth the listening time?

This book was definitely worth listening to.