Bangkok Tattoo by John Burdett

#57 in my book challenge for the year was Bangkok Tattoo, the sequel to Bangkok 8, by John Burdett. While I loved B8 both times I read it, I found Tattoo less deft and engaging. I still whipped through it and could hardly wait to get to the end. But there were myriad bumps along the way: infelicitous sentences, mixed-up characterizations, too much going on, and a narrator who was somehow less present and engaging than he was in the first book. Worst of all, the story centers around that most wretched of cliches, the hooker with the heart of gold. As with B8, the sense of place is wonderful, the cultural divide is lovingly detailed, and Sonchai’s past-life and Buddhist insights make for a singular main character. Yet there were too many traffic-jam talk-radio interludes, a dead-end subplot with Sonchai’s new partner, and more information about other characters that Sonchai is privy to than is believeable.

Bangkok Tattoo
is the third sloppy sequel I’ve read recently, after Second Helpings by Meghan McCafferty and Magic Lessons by Justine Larbalestier. All three books were less well plotted than their predecessors, and included a distracting and unnecessary number of details. All three would have benefited from more severe editing and at least one more draft. I suspect they were rushed to publication based on the success of the former books. I found all three disappointing in comparison to the first books, on whose merit I bought them. I will not be buying the third installments without having read them from the library first.

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