Category Archives: Crime fiction and film from Thailand

Crime time at the 2012 Melbourne International Film Festival

Last year’s Melbourne International Film Festival was the best I can remember in terms of bringing global crime cinema to Melbourne. And MIFF 2012 looks like it’s going to be every bit as good. I’m particularly pleased to have received media accreditation to this year’s festival (thank you MIFF), which means I’ll be aiming to see more than my usual quota of cinema.

Here’s what I’ll be catching in terms of crime during the Festival.

Foremost on the list is the 2011 Mexican film Miss Bala (that’s Miss Bullet in Spanish), the story of a 23-year old Tijuana woman who decides to enter a beauty contest in the hope of winning much needed money. Instead, she ends up becoming a drug mule and arms trafficker for a cartel boss called Lino.

Miss Bala is supposedly based on a real incident in 2008, in which the then Miss Sinaloa, Laura Zuniga, was arrested with suspected cartel members in a truck filled with munitions. The lead actress in Miss Bala, newcomer Stephanie Sigman, is reported to be excellent in the role.

I’ve been waiting for ages to see Rampart, directed by Oren Moverman who also did The Messenger in 2009, a hard hitting film about two US marines whose job is to deliver death notices to the loved ones of US service men and women killed in action.… Read more

Great crime reads set in Asia

Okay, I’ve sat patiently through the hype about Scandinavian crime fiction, which shows no sign of ending, only to read recently that the next big thing in crime fiction is central Europe.

I keep thinking people will eventually discover Asia as a fascinating place to set crime fiction, but it looks like I’ll have to keep on waiting on that score.

Not that there aren’t some great crime reads set in the region. A few weeks ago I wrote the following post on some of my favourites for the site, Crime Fiction Lover. One book I could’ve included but didn’t was David Peace’s Tokyo Year Zero. One CFL reader suggested the books of Seicho Matsumoto. I’d live to hear other suggestions as I’m sure there are heaps more.

Jade Lady Burning – Martin Limon

Low profile crime writer Martin Limon has so far written six books featuring Sueno and Bascom, officers in the Criminal Intelligence Division of the US military based in South Korea, and a seventh is on the way.

Jade Lady Burning was the first of the series, written in 1992, and for my money it’s still one of the best. Sueno and Bascom are assigned to investigate the brutal murder of a local prostitute which turns into something much more sinister.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Monkey on a Chain by Charity Blackstock

“Revenge or hate? She didn’t know which – but something irresistible was drawing her to Bangkok to confront her brother’s killer.”

Today’s Pulp Friday contribution, Monkey on a Chain, is going to be short and sweet because I’ve got a mountain of writing deadlines at the moment.

This edition of Monkey on a Chain was published by MacFadden Bartell Books, one of the large US pulp publishers in the fifties and sixties. It was written by Charity Blackstock, a pseudonym for Paula Alladyce, who wrote over 20 crime and historical romance pulp novels between 1950 and 1981. She also used the names Ursala Today and Charlotte Keppel.

By the sound of the back cover blurb, Monkey on a Chain might have been one of Alladyce’s racier offerings.

“A journey into hate. 

Sue Douglas left her husband and children to seek out the man who had killed her beloved twin brother twenty years before in a prison camp on the notorious River Kwai. All she knew was his name and that he lived in Bangkok.

Sue stalked her quarry everywhere in the steamy, exotic city – including its brothels – until the night she met him by chance and realised suddenly that her life would never be the same. 

A torturous love-hate relationship developed between them which reached a shattering climax at her brother’s grave on the River Kawi…”

Read more

Kill List and three other upcoming crime films I have to see

It was a long wait for Drive, the subject of my last post, but well worth it.

Drive is not the only crime film I’ve been waiting for with anticipation. There are several others, headed up by the 2011 British film, Kill List. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this film and am still kicking myself I didn’t realise it was included in the Melbourne International Film Festival earlier this year.

Ben Wheatley, who did Down Terrace in 2009, directs Kill List. Down Terrace is the story of a family of low level drug runners who, almost literally, devour each other in an orgy of paranoia and violence as they attempt to unmask what they believe is a informer in their ranks. It is genuinely disturbing viewing.

The main characters of Kill List, Jay and Gal, are a couple of Iraq war vets and semi-professional hit men who take a contract to eliminate a list of three people. The movie starts off as traditional hit man story and then gradually morphs into a tale of horror, with a distinct Wicker Man feel to it

I’ll say no more. Check out the trailer here:

Madman Films has picked up the film and there is word they intend to give it a mainstream release here in Australia some time in 2012.… Read more

Interview: Timothy Hallinan

The Queen of Patpong is the the fourth book by Timothy Hallinan set in Thailand featuring the character of Poke Rafferty, a Filipino Irish PI, but the first one I’ve read. As the book opens, Rafferty is living peacefully enough in Bangkok with his ex-bar girl wife Rose and Miaow, a young street kid they have more or less adopted. Until a very bad man called Howard Horner enters the story. He’s a security contractor in Afghanistan with a link to Rose’s past as a prostitute. Most of the book is an extended journey through Rose’s past, starting when she was a young girl called Kwan living in a poor village in the Thai countryside, through to her journey into the sex trade in Bangkok.

It’s one of the most interesting and unusual crime novels I’ve read recently. Tim was kind enough to answer some questions about his work for Pulp Curry.

I’ve just finished reading The Queen of Patpong. It’s your fourth Poke Rafferty book, but the first I’ve read. What made you want to set a crime novel in Thailand?

I’ve lived there off and on for 30 years, and it’s the most interesting city I know – just a total collision between sleaze and spirit, luxury and poverty, sprawl (it’s the third-biggest city in the world in terms of area) and small towns, because a lot of the little neighborhoods that make it up were once towns that the city ate, and they remain very insular. Read more