The Wisdom of Beer


Christopher G Moore’s latest novel, The Wisdom of Beer (ISBN 978-616-7503-11-0, Heaven Lake Press, 2012) is set in Pattaya, with many of the characters reminiscent of many of the ‘characters’ that abound in our fair city.

Thinly disguised, but it does not need much of a leap of faith to see through Moore’s descriptions.  Take for example, “To Sandler, the Pattaya Volunteer Police Force were an exhibit of living contradictions: elderly farangs dressed in police uniforms, like a science experiment in time travel that had gone terribly wrong.”

Author Moore shows that in the 20 something years he has lived in Thailand, he has seen through the glitzy exterior of life in Pattaya and subscribes to the notion that everything is possible, but everything costs money.  “There was always a price for getting involved in other people’s lives.  The question was always how much it was going to cost, and how soon the payment would be due, and if it all could be paid in installments or whether it would have to be one huge lump- sum balloon payment.”

The plot revolves around a septuagenarian Thai lady and a macaw, the recipe for Chinese Hell Beer, an American beer bar owner, the Russian mafia, the local Chinese godfather and son and the American Marines on the Cobra Gold exercises.  Keeping the plot moving along is a Moscow hooker with ambition.  And there is plenty happening.

An unholy alliance of East and West occurs with both the Thai/Chinese Mafia and the Russian contingent joining forces to break into a warehouse to steal weapons.  The would be felons include a trio of katoeys and nary a fingernail gets chipped, though there are copious tears.

The Wisdom of Beer came highly recommended by accredited authors such as Colin Cotterill and John Burdett, and after reading the book, I can see why.  Christopher Moore is an excellent story teller as well as a writer and keeps your interest going all the way through.  The plot has many twists and turns, and Moore manages to keep more than three balls in the air at one time.

There is almost no-one in Pattaya who escapes Moore’s notice in this book, but he covers his ass in the acknowledgements at the very end of the book writing a full disclaimer exonerating the Volunteer Police Force and, “the Pattaya Police, the Pattaya hospital establishment, the US Navy and Marine personnel, organizers of beauty pageants, hotel owners, bar owners, bar employees, Chinese ancestor worshippers and all species of macaws.”

He also goes on to write that “None of these incidents happened, none of these people exist, and only a trouble maker with a hidden agenda would suggest otherwise.”  Anyone who knows Pattaya will finally put the book down with a large smile on their face, if not a real guffaw.

At B. 495, it is another book bargain.  If you are a fan of Christopher G Moore’s you will love this book.  If you have not read any of his previous 23 novels (though that hard to imagine), you will be a fan after reading this one.