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Book Review: Asia Hand

by Lang Reid

It was three days into the Year of the Monkey when I picked up Asia Hand from the shelf (ISBN 974-87171-2-7, Heaven Lake Press, 1992 and 2000), one of Christopher G. Moore’s novels. It began with the words, “Three days into the Year of the Monkey, Calvino perched on a stool at the Yellow Parrot jazz bar. He was killing time as if he were on a stake-out for a client.” The time and place were given succinctly, the only words out of place were “killing time” - Vinnie Calvino, Moore’s Private Investigator, is more known for killing people. I decided I should continue reading Moore’s Year of the Monkey.

Moore introduces the reader to the ‘real’, but not glamorous world, of the Thai bar girl, a fitting haven (but not heaven) for Calvino. Moore also introduces you to Mrs. Jamthong, his long suffering maid, about whom Calvino’s lady of the night says, “If you didn’t drink so much, you wouldn’t pull a gun on your maid five mornings a week. The poor woman deserves combat pay working for you, Vinee.” But Mrs. Jamthong survives through this book and others too.

In that unglamorous world there is also a TV cameraman, Jerry Hutton, who shoots some apparently very incriminating film in Burma which ends up being shown on CNN. Hutton is murdered as his reward for bringing atrocities to the TV sets of the world, and Calvino, his neighbour, becomes involved.

However, there are ‘dark influences’ at work, as there always are in Thailand, and especially in Calvino’s Thailand. Vinnie gets fingered for murdering Hutton’s girlfriend and the action becomes more frantic, as does Calvino, trying to work out just who put out the word to have him picked up.

The final chapters fly by as you attempt to unravel Calvino’s mystery, but in the end you suddenly find out that it really is a dog eat dog kind of world.

For Christopher G. Moore fans, this book is another of the reasons that writer Moore and his character Vinnie Calvino have endured. It may have been first published in 1992, but it is as current as tomorrow. For a little fun and to get to know Vinnie a little better, go to ‘his’ home page on Vinnie paints a vignette (or should that be a Vinnie-ette?) of himself. “I have no attachments. Next life I will make a perfect Buddhist. But in this life I am paying off the karma of a last life. I am an ex-lawyer from New York City. No one gets himself born in New York City without having made some major mistake in the last life. Whatever that mistake was it was bad enough to cause me to abandon New York City for Bangkok. Flipped from the wok straight into the fire. For the past dozen years, I’ve been solving crimes in Southeast Asia, keeping and trying not to get burnt.” Let me assure you that you will not be burnt by buying this book either. A great read. The review copy was made available by Bookazine with an RRP of B. 475.

  Mott’s CD review:  Mambo Sons - Play Some Rock and Roll

by Mott the Dog

5 Stars *****

The Mambo Sons’ new album is called “Play Some Rock and Roll” and that, in a nutshell, is exactly what these boys do. If Rock music is your particular bag then get this album. When was the last time you walked with an insolent swagger, an attitude of living life to the full, and a cheese eating grin plastered across your face? If that feeling was too long ago, get yourself some Mambo Sons.

So, what is special about this group of songs then? Well, ‘Feel’ would sum up in one word how these guys play, letting the music do the talking. Each song has its own definite character, whist retaining a Mambo groove that kicks you from one track to the next.

The band was formed in Connecticut by Tom Guerra (the Connecticut Connection is worn proudly on the sleeve of the Mambo Sons), who quickly teamed up with Scott Lawson to share the singing, guitar playing, and song writing in the band. The rhythm section is made up of the very busy bass of Jeff Keithline and the very tight drumming of Mike Hayden (no keyboards with Mambo Sons to fill out the sound, just crunching guitar licks).

Everyone who has ever played music, or even just bent an interested ear to a tune, has been influenced; Mambo Sons have obviously been listening to only the best in their formative years. If you like Humble Pie, the Faces, early AC/DC, with all the music given a twist of Connecticut, and believe quite rightly that every band should have a guitar player that sounds like Keith Richards, then it’s a no-brainer that you instantly fall in love with this album - and with Mambo Sons. The dial is set on Classic Rock Music, something you can tap a foot to, or nod along with a mug of beer in your hand at the bar of Tahitian Queen on Beach Road during its famous Friday Afternoon Rock & Roll Happy Hour. Just ask the D.J., he will turn you onto Mambo Sons.

Every song is a little gem. The opener ‘I Get Around Too Much’ sets the tone right up front with its filthy opening guitar licks and good fun tongue in cheek lyrics as the band lock into that Mambo groove. ‘River is Wide’ is an absolute classic in the middle of the album; ‘Rockaway’ shows that the boys can slow it down and show their more tender side (even cowboys have feelings, you know); a lovely tribute to George Harrison with ‘Our Time is Getting Closer’; Mott’s own personnel favorite ‘79’ with its gut wrenching guitar licks and snarling vocals, which must be show stopping when live; and ‘Everything Was Mine’ brings the album to a rousing conclusion.

Every song has its own, very strong melody, and the musicianship is flawless. The band’s only playing whatever is necessary, but not needlessly cluttering things up with a hundred notes when ten will do perfectly. Thank you. With this back to basics approach in the arrangements the album comes across with a timeless feel. I cannot recommend this album enough to lovers of good old fashioned, no frills Rock & Roll. If it’s head banging Nu-Metal that you are after, then you might be barking up the wrong tree with Mambo Sons, but if you just want to kick up some dirt and have a good time, I suggest you look no further. You can also have some fun listening out for all the name checks scattered about amongst the lyrics. ‘Mambo Sons Play Some Rock and Roll’ would some up this review in seven words.


Tom Guerra - Guitars and Vocals
Scott Lawson - Guitars and Vocals
Mike Hayden - Drums and Vocals
Jeff Keithline - Bass and Vocals


I Get Around Too Much
Blame It All On You
Come On Back
Strawberry Hill
River Is Wide
Little Live Thing
Our Time Is Getting Closer
What You Got
Everything Was Mine

To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]