I have been to Bangkok, but not experiences the real seedy side of it's nightlife. I purchased the book because I liked the trilogy title: Land of Poisoned Smiles. I imagined the book to be unveiling the truth behind the famous girly bars, but what I found, was a disturbing psychological thriller, which was actually quite difficult to put down.
This novel follows the unfortunate adventures of an anti-hero character by the name of Damian Shaw. The story traces his rather naive belief that what is missing from his life - is basically a sex holiday in Bangkok. Although at first this is not so believable, it did somehow keep me engaged, because there has to be people out there who frequent these places, or this industry would fold up.
Anyway ... The central character develops slowly during the novel, the author Alexander Menyharth keeps you from getting to know him completely. This I hope will change in his later novels in the trilogy.
The story is fast moving and rather slapstick at first, but this changes into more of a deeper psychological chase, where Damian becomes infatuated by a certain Thai girl by the name of Nok. Nok is a likeable character and quite believable. It is obvious the author has spent a fair amount of time in these Bangkok bars! The location descriptions appear authentic also, and the balance of sexism is carefully managed, there are not really any explicit scenes and the narrative includes a number of female characters that are strong and independent.
The author keeps you reading by introducing a number of dream sequences at the beginning of the chapters, these I found a welcome escape from the main narrative, as it added depth to Damian's mindset and helped me to understand the twist from a thriller style to more of a sci-fi style by the end of the book.
The later chapters are where the story really deepens, and opens a wealth of possibilities for the next 2 books in the trilogy.
Without spoiling the book for anyone, the sci-fi twist is what makes this thriller novel. The author nits it all together quite subtly, so you are almost unaware of what the story is developing into, which I found interesting.
I would recommend this book to people interested in Thailand and it's seedy underworld, and also those looking for a different slant on thriller sci-fi set in our own world. The book is well written and easily read, as I would expect, because the author is a qualified psychologist and copy editor.
I look forward to the next 2 books...
(reviewed the day of purchase)