Published by Monsoon Books
When I first picked this book up and browsed for some information on the author, I was surprised to read that he had zilch writing experience whatsoever. He had instead been a hunter, merchant seaman and a bodyguard who enjoyed shooting and photography in his free-time. It was only after a Google search did I find out that Andrew Grant had already written and published ten books prior (under two different names). Strange that this information was left out.
Death in the Kingdom by Andrew Grant is a James Bond style spy thriller involving the usual page-turning stuff of conspiracy, portrayal and of course the seedy underworld. And just like James Bond, the star of this book Daniel Swann, who is a secret British agent, is busy fooling around with as many ladies that he can possibly lay his hands on. As the author admits in a later interview, Daniel certainly has his characteristic flaws – besides being just a handsome womanizer, his idea of enjoying his free-time is drinking as much beer as possible before waking up late with a serious hangover.
Anyway, Daniel is back in Thailand by orders of his boss The Right Honourable Bernard Sinclair MBE who Daniel eloquently describes as being as ‘queer as a two-bob watch’. His job is to recover a small black box from the bottom of the Andaman Sea which has been missing since a Japanese ship was sunk there at the end of the Second World War. Not such an easy task to complete all alone and Daniel has to seek out the assistance of Mr Tuk Tuk, Thailand’s Top Mafia Boss (Strange name for a mafia boss). To complicate the matters though, it was Daniel who had once not only killed his son but also shot-off half the face of his ugly mean side-kick ‘Mr Cabbage’.
The book starts off on the island of Phuket where Daniel meets up with an old buddy of his Geezer. Any reader unfamiliar to the place will soon realize that the area is not just cheap and beautiful but it is also host to plenty of delicious food and short-time sex. The plot soon unravels and before Daniel is off to meet the dangerous Mafia Boss, we learn that besides the small black box hidden below the waters there is also 2 billion dollars worth of gold and a one metre high Buddha Image encrusted in 3,000 rubies.
According to Sir Bernard however, the British government don’t need the treasure whatsoever as it is all promised to be given as an award to Mr Tuk Tuk for his help in the salvage. The Mafia Boss is soon flabbergasted at his new-found potential wealth and shakes the hand of Daniel. The latter of whom isn’t so dumb though and knows that his new partner isn’t a man who forgets any past ill-deed so easily. And then, he also has to watch out for scar-face Mr Cabbage who also wants him dead…. as soon as the task is over.
All to plan and a sizable amount of the book is given to the recovery of the small black box, wad of gold and the priceless Ruby Buddha in Burmese Waters. Not being much of sea or diving expert, I kinda flicked through some of this adventure, but was soon back to enjoy a twist to the story when Daniel and his Prawn Boat crew are attacked by a weapons-loaded speedboat, which has appeared out of the blue. Mr Tuk Tuk, the meanest mafia boss in the land, hasn’t let his boys go out into foreign waters with no ammunition back-up and so the enemy speedboat and its crew are blasted out of the Andaman.
Safely back on the boat, the reader gets an idea to the contents of this top-secret box after some of it leaks out, but we don’t get the low-down until Daniel finally makes his way back to the British embassy. During the trip back to Bangkok, Daniel realizes that there is more to this adventure than meets the eye and his suspicions grow by the minute. Who were those guys in the speedboat, the CIA? How, during his zig-zag venture back to the capital are guys continually able to follow him?
Along the way, Daniel meets up again with the Mafia Boss and the reader once more learns of a new twist to the plot. Tuk Tuk never does get to keep the holy image and the Ruby Buddha is thankfully returned to its rightful owner Brother Thana of Wat Pha To. We also get a descriptive picture of Tuk-Tuk’s Japanese mistress Sukura who Daniel wouldn’t mind tasting for himself – in the confines of her palace.
From then on, the author takes us on an adventure which goes from Bangkok to Ayutthaya to the Golden Triangle. People lose their heads (literally), there are bloody slayings and loads new characters are added to the story…… And that’s as much as I will give away…
Altogether, this book is an enjoyable read which turns and twists at every opportunity. I would definitely recommend it as a decent read on a beach-hut hammock for those readers who like a bit of a thrilling page-turner. On the other-hand though, if it’s a decent read-up on Thailand or Thai ways you are after, then this book doesn’t quite offer that.
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