Sweatshop Greed (ISBN 978-1-481-06833-8, self-published, 2013), is a first novel for Aussie expatriate Michael Conlon, which came to me directly from the author. For that alone, he scored brownie points with me. Firstly for completing a book, and secondly being straightforward in approaching Pattaya Mail and offering his book for review. In some ways it is like lying on the sacrificial altar and hoping the high priest gives you mercy, or a merciful ending!
One of the big problems with self-publishing as I see it, is lack of critical proof reading. For example, the Italian car is an Alfa, not an Alpha and it is spelled both ways. Another, “Mr. Snowden was a tall, kind, small framed Englishman,” is confusing for the reader. Tall or small? All these can be caught and corrected by a good sub-editor. Not that Conlan’s book is littered with literals or downright mistakes, but for me, as a reviewer, it is annoying to come across them.
Author Conlon has written a thriller, with plenty of steamy sex thrown in probably to keep the reader interested. The setting is in the garment industry, after the central character, Amanda Simmonds graduates from university, but not before she manages to place one of her professors in a compromising situation.
Ms. Amanda, who comes from a very rich and well connected family becomes manipulative and expects everyone to kowtow to her and her position in life, both personally and in business.
Ms. Amanda, with an obsession for wealth and power is not reluctant to move her business from an honest clothing company, to one which is not averse to selling fake branded garments. These garments are made in one of the sweatshops of Asia, in this case, in northern Thailand.
The usual excuses are trotted out for the reader – the fact that the sweatshop offers regular employment and wages for financially oppressed villagers, so the rich industrialists can justify the continuation of the sweatshop conditions, while they put the financial rewards into Swiss bank accounts.
Author Conlan worked in financial management positions during his working life before retiring to Thailand, and his description of how this type of business dealing can be so financially rewarding and how profits can be hidden obviously comes from personal experience.
Ms. Amanda is very aware of herself and having used up her husband’s usefulness, discards him for two Americans who act as her agents for the garment manufacturing business, and enjoys a ménage a trois. However, her husband has also begun an affair with a Thai woman in the Bangkok branch of his company in Thailand.
About three quarters of the way through the book, I was wondering just where the tale was taking me – everything seemed to be working out for all the principal characters both financially and their personal relationships.
The turning point comes with a double murder in Bangkok of people investigating sweatshops.
And to further tighten the screws, the Australian side of her life begins to unravel when more details of the professor’s life come to light.
A racy first book available through Amazon and as an e-book.