Vincent Calvino spotted at PCEC meeting


The evolution of Thailand over the past 20 years can be found in reading the Vincent Calvino novels written by Christopher G. Moore.  This was Christopher’s message to the members and guests of the Pattaya City Expats Club at their meeting on Sunday, July 31.

Member Harry “Sig” Sigworth provided a humorous introduction of Christopher at the Amari’s Tavern by the Sea restaurant. Christopher has been based in Thailand since 1988 and authored many books during that period. His twelve novels in the Vincent Calvino series about a private eye living in Bangkok have a large following and are available in bookshops in Asia and other parts of the world, including Amazon. Christopher had also brought several of his books, which he autographed for those that wanted to purchase any of them; at a price lower than the book stores – so truly a bargain.

Author Christopher Moore relates the evolution of his Vincent Calvino Private Eye series of novels set in Bangkok.Author Christopher Moore relates the evolution of his Vincent Calvino Private Eye series of novels set in Bangkok.

Christopher first explained how he came to write his first Calvino novel, Spirit House. To begin with, Christopher pointed out his own background, a Canadian law professor that lived for a time in New York where he became acquainted with police officers; learning investigative procedures and often going on “ride alongs” with the officers. He came to Thailand in 1988 to do research for a book, which at the time, he said he wasn’t at all certain it would be the best locale. However, he found he liked Thailand so much that he remained and has made it his home ever since.

He didn’t come up with an idea to do a novel about a New Yorker becoming private eye in Bangkok until 1990. While enjoying the beach in Phuket, he said a friend gave him the idea for his first Calvino novel when the friend remarked that it would be interesting to have a Philip Marlowe type character transplanted to a different culture.  He also found the idea intriguing and he started writing his first book with the character Vincent Calvino, who has a lawyer background and becomes a private eye in Thailand.

Gary Brown, away for 18 months, guides the Open Forum.Gary Brown, away for 18 months, guides the Open Forum.

When he wrote this first novel, Christopher said he was not thinking about a series, only a book. Christopher pointed out that when he writes each story, he is writing the one book, not the series. Further, you do not have to read the series in sequence as each book is a separate story and stands on its own.

In writing his first book, the Thailand that Calvino found himself in was the Thailand that Christopher knew – at that time there were no mobile telephones, no Skytrain or subway. It was the beginning of the economic boom that brought many expats to Thailand besides backpackers.

The next book in the series was Asia Hand. When he was writing this book, Thailand had just been through a coup and there was a lot of upheaval and political changes in Asia and the world.  This gave him the background to write a story that had the CIA involved in covert operations and involved the murder of a freelance photographer which sets Calvino and his Thai police friend Colonel “Pratt” into action.

His third book, Zero Hour in Phnom Penh, was written during a time that the United Nations had sent peacekeeping forces into Cambodia. Christopher said he went to Cambodia as a journalist and it was this situation that gave him the idea for his third novel; but he needed a reason for Calvino to leave Thailand and go to Cambodia. It was also at this time that some stolen Saudi jewels were found in Thailand and after the police arrested the thief, the jewels went missing.  Using this as a catalyst, Christopher had reason for Calvino to go to Cambodia in search of the missing jewels.

Christopher Moore, wife Od and Richard Smith at the book sales table.Christopher Moore, wife Od and Richard Smith at the book sales table.

Christopher continued through the other books of the series noting that Calvino matured with each book and the Thai and expat culture he found himself in was the Thailand and the world at the time Christopher was writing the book.

In conclusion, he said each book was a milestone. Each reflected the culture and technology for both the expat and Thai community at a particular point in time over the past 20 years. Christopher also noted that some producers are planning to make a film based on his first book and, if the film does well, there could be more to follow.

After Christopher answered several questions from the audience, Richard Silverberg brought everyone up to date on upcoming events and called on Gary Brown to conduct the always informative and sometimes humorous Open Forum where questions are asked and answered about expat-living in Thailand, recommendations for restaurants and movies are made, and perhaps a joke or two are told.