This 14th novel to feature author Christopher G. Moore’s Private Eye Vincent (Vinny) Calvino should be on the Bookazine shelves by the time you read this review. For those who have ‘met’ Vinny before, you will know what to expect – a fast, racy and very believable plot with excellent dialogue and several twists in the tail and set in the Bangkok we all know, with many recognizable landmarks.
The Marriage Tree (ISBN 978-616-7503-23-3, Heaven Lake Press, 2014) has Vinny Calvino discovering a body in the Tobacco Monopoly’s grounds. A young woman, who could have even committed suicide, but Calvino senses foul play. The police are brought into the action and Calvino’s friend Colonel Pratt gets involved too.
Unfortunately, Calvino is suffering from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) after his Burmese girlfriend is murdered, and his ability to interpret situations and facts is distorted by recurring hallucinations.
The identity of the dead woman is uncovered by Calvino, which leads him on to refugee camps on the Thai border. This in turn brings forth some NGO workers which then produces connections to other refugee situations. At this stage in the plot, high-up Thais are introduced and their web of intrigue.
Much of the realism and immediacy in Moore’s writing comes from his ability to incorporate current items into the thread of his books. The Marriage Tree has managed to show rich and powerful driving high performance exotica who can escape arraignment, for example. The Rohingya refugees being towed out to sea and left to the elements is another. Expensive cars brought into Thailand without the tax having been paid.
Moore is a master of the metaphor, with original gems such as “… like a rock star caught with his trousers down in a cowshed.” “As rare as an orchid in a Brooklyn flowerpot.” “Like putting on a Ring of Power, driving a Lamborghini in the streets of Bangkok was an addiction.” “An overhead fan, its blades black with grime, slowly beat the air like the wings of an ancient flying reptile.”
Moore also shows psychological enquiry with items such as, “…a contradictory story about who committed a murder set the cat among the pigeons, mice and mad dogs, and each of these animals has its own way of dealing with cats.” Or “Love birds,” said McPhail. “Even vultures show each other affection,” said Calvino.” “Most people who spent a lifetime riding a high moral horse failed to experience what it was like to spend a lifetime walking behind the horse and knowing they could never escape what came after the horse’s tail was lifted.”
Calvino is also a philosopher, attempting to rationalize the Crusades, wars of faith and battles, which in the end nobody wins.
Towards the end of the book, Calvino’s friend Colonel Pratt leaves the police force to retire. One wonders if this book is then the last of the Calvino series, but knowing Vinny’s indomitable spirit, I am sure there will be more from the imaginative Christopher G. Moore.
This book has an RRP of B. 495 and believe me, it is worth every satang! Get it!