Nobody does underbelly, let alone Bangkok underbelly, better than John Burdett, whose detective thriller Bangkok Haunts is set into motion by the unsolved mystery surrounding the victim of a snuff film. This is the third installment in Burdett's series, which stars Thai cop Sonchai Jitpleecheep and a corrupt cast of characters dredged up from Bangkok's Patpong bordellos, drug industry and beyond-crooked justice system. And once again, the first-person character of Jitpleecheep is a fully realized gem in the yarn: Wise, sophisticated, observant and possessed of a complex personal philosophy plumped up by his Buddhist beliefs, he walks a fascinating line between urban life and Thai folklore without flinching. If you read it for no other reason, Jitpleecheep himself is well worth the price of the book.
Burdett will read from and sign copies of Bangkok Haunts tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover, 2526 East Colfax Avenue; for information, call 303-322-7727 or visit www.tatteredcover.com.