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The Godfather of Kathmandu by John Burdett
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The Godfather of Kathmandu (original 2010; edition 2010)

by John Burdett

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296837,920 (3.58)26
Member:JeffV
Title:The Godfather of Kathmandu
Authors:John Burdett
Info:Knopf (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Rating:***
Tags:Fiction, Crime, SE Asia

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The Godfather of Kathmandu by John Burdett (2010)

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» See also 26 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
This is the fourth book that Burdett has written featuring Sonchai, but it is the first one that I’ve read. I think that if I had previous experience of the books I may have found this one a little easier to read. The plot of the murder is entwined with the drugs plot which has a subplot of Sonchai’s own quest for spiritual enlightenment. I personally found the murder plot line the most interesting, but this was the one that had the least coverage. I found the spiritual plot the least interesting, and did at times find myself scanning through it rather than reading it fully.

The character of Sonchai was quite confusing I found, but I feel that this was probably well crafted – he is a man caught up in grief who is trying to balance his personal quest to live a good life with the external influences of his boss Vikorn who is steering him to instead become more corrupt. I found Sonchai’s assistant Lek really interesting but sadly he didn’t get anywhere near as much coverage as I would have liked.

I personally found the style in which the book was written to be difficult to get to grips with. Sonchai narrates the book, but he switches between the present tense and the past tense when talking about different events. I am not a fan of books narrated in the present tense, but that is very much a personal preference and it would be wrong to criticise the book on these grounds. The story itself is well crafted and I’m sure there are many people who will find it hard to put down. ( )
  juniperjungle | Apr 16, 2013 |
This is the fourth book that Burdett has written featuring Sonchai, but it is the first one that I’ve read. I think that if I had previous experience of the books I may have found this one a little easier to read. The plot of the murder is entwined with the drugs plot which has a subplot of Sonchai’s own quest for spiritual enlightenment. I personally found the murder plot line the most interesting, but this was the one that had the least coverage. I found the spiritual plot the least interesting, and did at times find myself scanning through it rather than reading it fully.

The character of Sonchai was quite confusing I found, but I feel that this was probably well crafted – he is a man caught up in grief who is trying to balance his personal quest to live a good life with the external influences of his boss Vikorn who is steering him to instead become more corrupt. I found Sonchai’s assistant Lek really interesting but sadly he didn’t get anywhere near as much coverage as I would have liked.

I personally found the style in which the book was written to be difficult to get to grips with. Sonchai narrates the book, but he switches between the present tense and the past tense when talking about different events. I am not a fan of books narrated in the present tense, but that is very much a personal preference and it would be wrong to criticise the book on these grounds. The story itself is well crafted and I’m sure there are many people who will find it hard to put down. ( )
  juniperjungle | Apr 16, 2013 |
Not the usual crispness and sexiness. Heavy in Buddhism, Tibet, Nepal, drugs, wai, Tantra, Sonchai drifts along. He seems to trip over clues instead of finding them. His 6 year old is killed in a car accident. Then more mind control. Lots of shots at Americans. Dull book. Swore off this series but then read Vulture Peak after all - and glad I did. ( )
  maneekuhi | Mar 5, 2012 |
One of the weaker entries in this generally excellent series. Our hero, Sonchai, is awash in Buddhist gried after the accidently death of his son. Sent to Kathmandu to negotiate a gigantic drug deal with a mysterious Tibetan, Sonchai falls under his influence while pursuing the Right Path.

Back in Bangkok, however, Sonchai finds himself messing with the murder of the Fat Farang, an ex-Hollywood director killed in true Hollywood style. Who did it? Why?

This book needs a bit more detection and a little less internal dialogue. ( )
  barlow304 | Aug 28, 2011 |
As you travel to foreign countries, you probably always ask yourself - do people of these other cultures think the same way we do, even though they speak a separate language? Don't they value the same things we do, have the same sense of right and wrong, and so on? It's tempting to think so. Burdett consistently puts the lie to that - even writing as an American. His hero Sonchai consistently exposes us to a human, but alien, value system, yet it's close enough to ours to that we can relate to it, even if we might not share it.

Or as Sonchai says:

Do not judge me too harshly, farang (foreigner). (You know how you are.) In the wasteland where narrative rots, Good Thief may be the highest aspiration. Let he who is without karma cast the first stone.

Filled with an intriguing and shocking mystery, the atmosphere of Thailand, nearly pornographic descriptions of the food of Thailand, and an exotic excursion to Tibet, I can't recommend this book highly enough. ( )
  viking2917 | May 27, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Maybe it's the deviation from the title scheme, or Sonchai's tempered arrogance ("Confession: I provoked the world and the world turned on me.") or Burdett's increasing comfort pushing against genre constraints, but The Godfather of Kathmandu comes the closest to its idealized overall objective. In doing so it more or less inverts the traditional crime narrative, fully relegating the story's so-called inciting force of murder behind Sonchai's overt search for personal redemption.
 
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Epigraph
Few are there amongst men who go to the Farther Shore; the

rest of this mankind only run about on the bank.

        —Gautama, The Dhammapada

The third kind of suffering and pain that the soul endures in

this state results from the fact that two other extremes meet

here in one, namely, the Divine and the human.


        —San Juan de la Cruz, The Dark Night of the Soul

There must be some way out of here.


        —Bob Dylan, "All along the Watchtower"
Dedication
For Nit
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Ours is an age of enforced psychosis.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307263193, Hardcover)

Sonchai Jitpleecheep—John Burdett’s inimitable Royal Thai Police detective with the hard-bitten demeanor and the Buddhist soul—is summoned to the most shocking and intriguing crime scene of his career. Solving the murder could mean a promotion, but Sonchai, reeling from a personal tragedy, is more interested in Tietsin, an exiled Tibetan lama based in Kathmandu who has become his guru.

There are, however, obstacles in Sonchai’s path to nirvana. Police Colonel Vikorn has just named Sonchai his consigliere (he’s been studying The Godfather on DVD): to troubleshoot, babysit, defuse, procure, reconnoiter—do whatever needs to be done in Vikorn’s ongoing battle with Army General Zinna for control of Bangkok’s network of illegal enterprises. And though Tietsin is enlightened and (eerily) charismatic, he also has forty million dollars’ worth of heroin for sale. If Sonchai truly wants to be an initiate into Tietsin’s “apocalyptic Buddhism,” he has to pull off a deal that will bring Vikorn and Zinna to the same side of the table. Further complicating the challenge is Tara: a Tantric practitioner who captivates Sonchai with her remarkable otherworldly techniques.

Here is Sonchai put to the extreme test—as a cop, as a Buddhist, as an impossibly earthbound man—in John Burdett’s most wildly inventive, darkly comic, and wickedly entertaining novel yet.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:21:00 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Sonchai Jitpleecheep--John Burdett's inimitable Royal Thai Police detective with the hard-bitten demeanor and the Buddhist soul--is summoned to the most shocking and intriguing crime scene of his career. Solving the murder could mean a promotion, but Sonchai, reeling from a personal tragedy, is more interested in Tietsin, an exiled Tibetan lama based in Kathmandu who has become his guru--and has forty million dollars' worth of heroin for sale.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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