Jake writes this book in first person. It makes the book a bit more personal.  Having read the last of the Trilogy, A World of Trouble, I’m getting the feel for the ex-lawyer  who is now in a relationship with an semi-famous artist in Bangkok. But for all his intentions of living  a simple middle class life in  an exotic and chaotic city, Jack’s  curiosity and a sense of justice, is luring him into a big game, that no doubt  he will reinvent on the fly.

In the jacket of the book, it explains Jack in an almost pathetic light:

Once a high-flying international lawyer, a member of the innermost circles of government power, Jack Shepherd has abandoned the savage politics of Washington for the lethargic backwater of Bangkok, where he is now just an unremarkable professor at an unimportant university in an insignificant city.

Or is he?

In Jake Needham’s bio, which is published in every book, there’s a similar paradox:

“Mr. Needham has lived and worked in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand for over twenty years. He is a lawyer by education and has held a number of significant positions in both the public and the private sectors where he took part in a lengthy list of international operations he has no intention of telling you about.”

Or will he?

Jake gets the last laugh here. If you want to know what Jake has really been up, just follow the logical world of Jack Shepherd who is irresistibly attracted to the dark side in his pursuit of an abstract justice. He is the expert of tracing money laundering and here lies the dilemma of a man who considers himself morally uncorrupt.

Needham writes in A World of Trouble, in the prelude, that Jack’s first stint in Bangkok was when he really hit his stride:

“Half the companies in Asia seemed to want an American academic on their board of directors. Particularly one with connections in Washington who had been publicly hailed as an expert in international finance and money laundering.”

This almost ecstatic description of a man in full ended with a cautionary line. “It was like a blow job that never stopped.”

A World of Trouble, which took the Bangkok Post five months after the publication date  to review it – which gives you an idea of the volatile kind of book it is. The Ambassador’s Wife, which was widely reviewed in Singapore before it was published and it’s true content revealed, was hushed into insignificance, because of its political nature.

As Jake wrote in a recent post on his Asian Letters:

Because I didn’t portray the Singaporean police as relentlessly and efficiently hunting down the criminals, no matter the personal or political cost to them, the book almost immediately disappeared from local bookstores. My acquaintances in government, the press, and the police abruptly stopped returning my calls. More than a dozen local newspapers and magazines ran stories about THE AMBASSADOR’S WIFE before it was published, but not a single publication in Singapore ever mentioned the book again after it was published.

For those of you who have lived in Thailand, just read the book for a trip own memory lane. Limpini Park gets a mention, as a rendezvous point for Jack and the sexy body-guard of  his reluctant client.

Jack means well but he’s snooping around. He doesn’t see that way. You can feel Jack being set up and he’s slowly spinning out of control on the whirlwind that’s making swooping sounds. “Whoop whoop!”

Jack’s inherent belief in being right and his important position at a prestigious University, just doesn’t hold water for some. After a trip to Hong Kong to investigate a recently closed bank, and a quick meet up with a former spy from ASIS (Jake does weave  in the Australian vernacular well, dunny does get a mention) , where they ride  a ferry to Kowloon and back to exchange information on the case.

Jack is in big trouble when he’s told by the newly sworn in Finance Minister,  who he meets clandestinely at the exclusive Polo Club in Bangkok, to stop snooping around.

“When the Elephant walks the grass is trampled.”

Jack has been warned.

And there’s lots of mopping up to do. But knowing how Jack works, things might just turn out okay.

“My name is Jack Shepard. But that may be the last thing I tell you of which I’m completely and absolutely certain.”

That’s the lead in A World of Trouble, where Jack must pick up the pieces of his life, and perhaps save Thailand from a civil war.


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