Category Archives: Crime fiction and film from Cambodia

My year in books: Tom Vater

TheCambodianBookOfTheDead-144dpi

I’m pleased to welcome Bangkok-based journalist and writer Tom Vater as the next contributor to the ‘my year in books’ series.

Tom is the author of The Cambodian Book of the Dead, a great hard-boiled crime novel set in Cambodia, which I reviewed here on this site in early November.

The book is available here. You can find out more about Tom and his work on his on-line home, here.

Thanks for your contribution, Tom. I particularly approve of the inclusion of Robert Stone’s book, Dog Soldiers. That’s one I definitely have to re-read.

The Master and Margerita, Mikhail Bulgakov

I got to this incredible, magical tale by low-down pop cultural ways when I was sixteen and am currently rereading the book.  In this enduring Russian novel, the devil causes mischief amongst the atheist and greedy communist elite in 1920s Soviet Moscow, one of the world’s greatest love stories, between the Master and Margarita, plays itself out, and there’s an alternative narrative of the relationship between Pontius Pilate and Jesus. The Rolling Stones’ Sympathy for the Devil is said to be partially inspired by the novel and that’s how I found Bulkakov’s subversive masterpiece.

“But would you kindly ponder this question: What would your good do if evil didn’t exist, and what would the earth look like if all the shadows disappeared?Read more

Book review: The Cambodian Book of the Dead

TheCambodianBookOfTheDead-144dpiI’ve been meaning to read Tom Vator’s debut novel, The Cambodian Book of the Dead for a while now. I’m glad I finally got around to doing the task, because it’s one hell of a ride. Amusing, horrifying, at times frustrating, always perceptive.

The Cambodian Book of the Dead is not for everyone. I was probably predisposed to the book before I’d read the first page, because of my fondness for crime fiction set in Asia generally and Cambodia in particular, a country I’ve spent a lot of time in and the setting of my own debut crime novel, Ghost Money.

As far as I could tell, The Cambodian Book of the Dead takes place in the early part of last decade. The Khmer Rouge insurgency is over. Pol Pot is dead, murdered by his own lieutenants in one last bout of bloodletting. Cambodia hovers between the civil war wracked basket case it was in the nineties and the must-see tourist destination it is now. Investment is starting to flow in, but things are slow. The ruling elite is still in the early stages of organising the wholesale plunder of the country they are carrying out today.

Maier is the Asia specialist for a top flight German private investigations firm, before that an international correspondent.… Read more

Ghost Money makes long list for Ned Kelly crime writing awards

Ghost MoneyThe long lists for the 2013 Ned Kelly awards for Australian crime writing have been released.

My novel, Ghost Money, has made the long list for best First Fiction, along with a number of other excellent books.

Ghost Money continues to get excellent reviews. So, if you haven’t bought a copy, why not do so.

For those who don’t know the plot, here’s the pitch:

Cambodia, 1996, the long-running Khmer Rouge insurgency is fragmenting, competing factions of the coalition government scrambling to gain the upper hand. Missing in the chaos is businessman Charles Avery. Hired to find him is Vietnamese Australian ex-cop Max Quinlan.

But Avery has made dangerous enemies and Quinlan is not the only one looking. Teaming up with Heng Sarin, a local journalist, Quinlan’s search takes him from the freewheeling capital Phnom Penh to the battle scarred western borderlands. As the political temperature soars, he is slowly drawn into a mystery that plunges him into the heart of Cambodia’s bloody past.

Ghost Money is a crime nove about Cambodia in the mid-nineties, a broken country, what happens to those trapped between two periods of history, the choices they make, what they do to survive.

It’s available here in digital format for $4.99 and hard copy for $10 plus postage.… Read more

Pulp Friday: more adventures behind the bamboo screen

The Turncoat

One of the most successful pulp fiction related posts to date on this site was a selection of Asian themed pulp fiction paperback covers I put up in 2011, Behind the bamboo screen: Asian pulp covers of the sixties and seventies.

For a while now I’ve been planning a follow up and here it is.

As was the case in the original post, the covers below portray the anti-communist hysteria created by the rise of the so-called ‘red menace’ as well the fate of innocent (and not so innocent) Westerners thrown into chaos and intrigue of the ‘Far east’, a place of intrigue, “notorious pleasure palaces” and “forbidden desire”.

Hong Kong was a popular setting of Asian themed pulp fiction, as evidenced by titles such as A Coffin From Hong Kong (“A seemingly innocent telephone call led him to the murder of a Chinese call-girl who had talked to much and into the teeming, sordid nightlife of colourful Hong Kong”).

Other locales portrayed below include, Korea (The Turncoat), China (Shanghai Incident – “I had two callers my first night in Shanghai – death and a honey blonde”), the “South Seas” (November Reef), India (Men and Angels), Burma (The House of Bamboo – “In a Burmese girl’s warm, seductive beauty he found escape from the flames of forbidden desire”), and Thailand (Port Orient).… Read more

Ghost Money now available in print

Ghost Money-1Ghost Money, my crime novel set in nineties Cambodia, is now available in print.

Since Ghost Money came out as an e-book at the end of October last year a number of you have been asking when it will be available as a print publication.

Well that time has come.

The print edition of Ghost Money will set you back $15 plus postage and is available here from Amazon.

For those of you who haven’t picked it up yet and prefer the e-book experience you can still pick up Ghost Money for your Kindle or e-reader for $3.99 .

Either way it’s a bargain for a slice of Asian favoured crime fiction that the prestigious UK site, Crime Fiction Lover called “the Third Man of Asian noir”.

As always if you have read Ghost Money it’d be great if you could leave feedback on Amazon or Goodreads and, most importantly, drop me a line and let me know what you think.

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