Category Archives: Crime fiction and film from Singapore

Kinda Hot: the making of Peter Bogdanovich’s Saint Jack

kindahotTowards the end of Kinda Hot: The Making of Saint Jack in Singapore, Peter Bogdanovich tells the book’s author Ben Slater: “Some of the best things are things that just happen once and then don’t happen again. They just don’t. Now mater how much you want them to.”

It’s a fitting observation for a film I have always regarded as a one of a kind, Bogdanovich’s 1979 adaption of the book by the same name by Paul Theroux, about a small time Italian American hustler (played by Ben Gazzara in the film) living in Singapore in the early seventies whose ambition is to open up his own high-class brothel.

As the film begins, Flowers is very much a bottom feeder, eking out a precarious existence on the fringes of Singaporean society. He’s so skint he has to haggle with his Chinese bosses for the taxi fare to pick up William Leigh (Denholm Elliott in the film), a mild mannered English accountant sent from head office in Hong Kong to audit the books. The one currency Flowers has no shortage of is contacts. Taking Leigh and a visiting American businessman on a tour of the island’s nightlife, Flowers is on first name terms with every hooker and tout he meets.

Flowers eventually establishes his brothel in a magnificent British colonial villa.… Read more

One Ashore in Singapore kicks off Beat to a Pulp’s 2013 schedule

t9045A quick heads up that my short story, ‘One Ashore in Singapore’ is kicking off Beat to a Pulp’s 2013 fiction schedule.

For readers, particularly in Australia, who are not familiar with Beat to a Pulp, it’s one of several sites in the US that regularly feature high quality short fiction.Other’s include Plots with GunsShotgun Honey and Noir Nation, just to name a few.

These sites are a great way for up and comers to cut their fiction teeth and establishing writers to feature their short fiction.

I’ve been wanting to crack a story in Beat to a Pulp for a while now, and I’m thrilled to have finally made it.

As the name suggests, ‘One Ashore in Singapore’ is set on Singapore and features my ex-Australian army now professional criminal, Gary Chance. It’s a down and dirty tale of false identities, double dealings and the challenges of finding late night accommodation.

You can read the story in full here.

Enjoy.

Pulp Friday: spy pulp part 2, Assignment Asia

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of James Bond, last week’s Pulp Friday was a selection of spy themed pulp covers.

This week’s post takes us to one of the main battlegrounds for pulp spies in the sixties and seventies – Asia.

The Cold War was in full swing and those Reds were getting up to all kinds of nefarious activity behind the bamboo curtain, everything from kidnapping, sabotaging America’s space program, developing bubonic plague, drug running, to assassination.

And secret agents like Mark Hood (The Bamboo Bomb) Butler (Chinese Roulette) Death Merchant (Chinese Conspiracy), Joe Gall (The Star Ruby Contract) and Drake (“The man with nobody’s face” in Operation Checkmate), Nick Carter (The Defector) and Sam Durell (the Assignment series, over 48 of which were written), were in the thick of it.

They usually committed a lot of violence, had a lot of sex, and travelled to exotic locations. The books below are set in China, Singapore, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan and Sri Lanka.

And, of course, there were some great covers. My favourite is the Robert Mcginnis illustration for Scott S Stone’s The Dragon’s Eye. But I’m also rather taken with the sleazy eighties feel of the photograph on the cover of Assignment Bangkok.… Read more

Asia hands

In the early-nineties, I lived for several years in Vientiane, the sun bleached, run down capital of one of the more remote countries in Asia, Laos. One of my acquaintances in the small expatriate community was a man who’d fled Australia after being accused of embezzling money from several companies.

He spent most nights drinking with a pack of other Australians and their mostly Lao girlfriends at a bar that circled a large fountain in the city’s centre. Drunk he exhibited an air of menace; otherwise he could be entertaining company. He knew a lot about Laos. Obviously, he also had contacts in government that enabled him to stay despite being wanted back in Australia.

He was the first, but by no means last, person I met in the six years I spent in Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand who could be given the title ‘Asia hand’.

The Asia hand has usually been a minor character Western crime films set in Asia, the drunken Westerner propping up the bar in some seedy hotel or proffering false information or documents. Two films that explore in more detail the themes embodied in the persona of the Asia hand are Peter Bogdanovich’s 1979 Saint Jack, based on the Paul Theroux novel of the same name, and the little known 1982 Australian thriller, Far East.… Read more