A Snake in Paradise (ISBN 978-616-7111-17-9, Bamboo Sinfonia, 2010) follows his popular book A Farang Strikes Back.
In this latest book, Anschel introduces many characters in the first third of the book, and the reader is left wondering just how they will all connect, and when.
The opening chapter drags the reader’s attention by suggesting that a double murder was happening as you read, but was it?
The following chapter introduces a simple farm girl from Buriram, living in a wooden shanty, with the ambition to live in a concrete house. She does not have a very pleasant introduction to adult life, being raped by her elder brother. A fate that too many young girls meet up-country.
The next characters, Peter and Jane from the UK are retirees looking to purchase a condominium being assisted by a beautiful real estate saleslady known as Apple. They are followed by Ingmar, a Scandinavian enjoying the boisterous nightlife of Pattaya.
But the list of characters does not end there - next is Heini, a German expat, married to a Thai and running a small loss-making hotel/guest house. Heini is having marital problems, differing from his spouse as to how the guest house should be turned around to make a profit, as his pension cannot finance the enterprise forever.
As the book moves on, the farm girl ends up working at a Pattaya bar, just as her mother does. The mind-set of the girl as she meets all the nuances of bar work, is well explained. When your mother is doing it, and you are surrounded by other girls all practicing the ‘trade’ makes it acceptable in the young girl’s mind.
A French Algerian joins the cast, and at this stage, half way through the book you start understanding just who is the real central character from the selections that author Anschel lays before you.
As well as Thai village life, this book takes you into the customs and culture of the Thais, and shows a great understanding of them. The different attitudes towards daily events can be quite different between foreigners and the indigenous peoples. The bar girl-foreigner relationship dynamics is explained very well.
As the plot unfolds you are given the identity of the central character, who has built a very interesting web of deceit. After this, the pace picks up until you are rushing headlong from one disaster to another, and the central character reveals just how evil a character can be.
With the majority of the book set in Pattaya, familiar places and streets abound. Including the Royal Garden Plaza and Central Festival and even our police station.
An interesting read as you try to put all the characters together, which happens in an intriguing way. At B. 395 this is a very cheap, but very enjoyable read, well crafted and a thriller in the popular genre. Available through all good book stores.