Tuesday, March 16, 2010
The Risk of Infidelity Index, by Christopher G. Moore
On to the third of my cruise reads. Actually, I picked this one up from the ship's library due to my constant fear of running out of books while on vacation. I have read about this series, but this is the first time I've picked up one of this author's novels. I liked it and first thing today I ordered my own copy, and scoped out the other books in the series.
The main character in this book, set in Bangkok, is Vincent Calvino, an ex-pat New Yorker who runs his private eye business out of an office in the same building as a massage parlor. He's just finished a huge surveillance gig, gathering evidence for an attorney who asked him to get the goods on a major drug piracy operation. Everything is looking up, except that Vincent broke one of his cardinal rules: get the money up front. His failure to do so causes him severe problems when the client dies of a heart attack in a toilet. To make matters even worse, he stumbles onto the body of one of the girls from the massage parlor at her place of business, attracting the attention of the local police who don't trust him anyway. As if this isn't bad enough, in order to make ends meet he does two things: first, he tries to put pressure on associates of the dead client (and the bad guys on whom he dug up the evidence) in order to get paid, and he agrees to take a job for a group of women who put stock in a book called "The Risk of Infidelity Index." This book lists Bangkok as the number one spot in the world where husbands will be unfaithful, and his job is to find evidence that the husbands are cheating. Neither one of these options, as it turns out, are ideal, and get our man Calvino into a world of trouble.
Moore has developed some great characters here, including Calvino himself, Calvino's good friend Colonel Pratt, a local high-ranking policeman who has a knack for spewing Shakespeare in appropriate moments, an Italian chef who gives cooking lessons to the cheated-on spouses but can't speak Italian, an associate of the dead attorney who has an eidetic memory and stands on principle, and even the bad guy, who is one nasty piece of work. But it's not just the characters that make the book -- Bangkok itself becomes so real you can feel the steam from the humidity. Moore is an awesome and talented writer, and it's a shame that not many more of his works are available here. This book is actually #9 in the series, so I do believe I've probably come into the series a bit too late, and I'm sure I've missed something. But that's okay. This book holds it own as far as I'm concerned.
I would recommend it to people who enjoy crime fiction, and to those who want something different from the norm in their reading. It's an engrossing story and it's well plotted, and should appeal to people who are more inclined toward noir with an exotic twist. Overall...a good find, considering I picked it totally out of thin air.