David Braddock is a complex man with several problems, both personal and business. Mr. Dolan commences the intricate web of mysteries about to draw you in by introducing a couple of new clients to David’s unusual business – he is a barely qualified personal counsellor and an unlicensed private investigator specializing in checking that tourists (farangs) in love with a Thai girl are not being taken for a ride. Enter the Police Chief of this Thai island needing David’s help to solve a particularly gruesome murder. This is where it gets really interesting as we learn David has had an affair with the Chief’s wife.
The story continues to reveal David’s personal life in snippets. His wife, Claire, is rarely home at the same time he is. When she is home their conversations are difficult and unproductive. Yet I sense how deeply David loves Claire, which confuses me as his sexual liaisons are hard to reconcile with what I have learned about his character. The beauty of this story is how it gradually reveals exactly how complex David’s character is. As clues from different parts of his life and business connect and disconnect, David also works to resolve his personal problems in a deep and thought-provoking way with a little help from a Buddhist monk. (I have to admit there are several high-brow pages that I only just about managed to keep up with.) For me, the highlight of the story was the jaw-dropping moment when my brain finally caught up with the numerous clues, but only thanks to David (read author) hitting me on the head with the terrible truth.
I won’t say more for fear of spoiling the various little mysteries that David slowly unravels, but suffice to say this is an excellent, interesting (the story is set in a beautifully detailed Thailand setting with the occasional philosophical detour), and enjoyable read. There is one mystery still to be unravelled in the series, plus the resolution to this book starts a huge problem for the next David Braddock thriller, but fear not, this is a standalone novel, and one I highly recommend.
(Billy Ray Chitwood=BR) (John Dolan= JD)
BR: Okay, Filbert, take off the blindfold!
JD: Hey, not so rough! You just don’t take ‘no’ for an answer, do you?
BR: Why should I? You can leave us now, Filbert, and take Salome with you.
JD: You kidding me? ‘Salome!’ ‘Filbert!’ They’re ‘junkies…’
BR: Had no money…they grabbed you for the ‘grass.’
JD: Are you mocking me? Are you stealing my interview ideas?
BR: Show me a legal document!
JD: At least my chair is comfortable, and my straps are pure leather, not this cord crap!
BR: You left me no choice, JD, you broke your promise to take my books viral and…
JD: Correction! I said your books were vile and pretentious…
BR: Okay, okay, I understand you’re a bit angry…just some tit for tat, that’s all. I really like your book, “Everyone Burns,” and I’m thinking ‘movie,’ ‘TV series,’ something really big. Can we just relax and talk about the book?
JD: Can you at least put a cushion on this orange crate? You’re not helping my hemmies.
BR: How’s that? Better? Good…Now tell me about “Everyone Burns” and how you came to write it.
JD: Guess I got no choice, but you gotta promise me you’re not going to make a habit of this kind of interview. This is my idea, not yours. Do we have a deal?
BR: Yes, we have a deal…Hell, I thought you would be pleased!
JD: Well, I am, sort of, but this is intellectual property, not something you mess with, BR. Plus I only get one original idea per decade.
BR: Okay, no more kidnaps for interviews! Got it! Can we proceed?
JD: The events in “Everyone Burns” take place over seventeen days while Thailand is still numb from the giant tsunami of December, 2004. Like everyone of sane mind this great catastrophe made my emotions run wild, made me think of life like I had never really thought about it. “Everyone Burns” gave me some escape from the reality all around me.
JD: No, not really. I wrote it for the money and the groupies.
BR: And how’s that working out?
JD: Probably about as well as it’s working out for you, I’d guess. Well … looking at you, probably slightly better with the groupies.
BR: Here’s a quote from ‘Everyone Burns, just after a bar fracas:
“To summarise, my life is one of split personality. I am in two minds about it myself.
Nevertheless, down these narrow streets a man must walk, even if it is in flip-flops.
But I am no Philip Marlowe, and Koh Samui is not film-noir USA. There is nothing
of Hollywood’s black and white morality on this most colourful of Thailand’s
Islands. And long overcoats just make you sweat in the sun. Here The Postman
Never Rings Twice, simply because he never rings at all. He has better things to
do. Lamai’s and Chaweng’s adventurers generally pack a condom, not a gun.”
You open the book with a broken cue stick inflicting injury to your protagonist and it’s like the excitement and action just never stops after that. I picked this quote because it’s one of my favorites but also because it gives the reader a sample of your splendid writing…Do you have any disagreement with my assessment here, JD?
JD: Take these cords off and I’ll kiss you. The passage is also a favorite of mine. Aside from the style thing in my writing, it is just basically who I am. But I’m NOT David Braddock, by the way. I want to make that clear in case my wife Fiona is reading this! A book of this genre for me has to move at a rapid pace, the action mostly non-stop. A lot of what I write about in “Everyone Burns” has some factual similarities, the people, the places, the time certainly. And, of course, you know my English is rather precise, proper, as it was intended to be! WHY are you smiling and shaking your head?
BR: Never mind, just me being me! It’s a great book, JD. Wish we had more time
because I’d like to mention “People With Real Lives Don’t Need Landscapes,” a book of poetry you wrote in 2003. You certainly have a way with words, JD, and I happen to love poetry. As Amazon puts it, “This big bouncy collection of contemporary poetry draws on both popular and high culture. The poems have energy, imagination, humor, and lively speech rhythms. They are light, weighty, topical, intellectual, gory, sad, wild, and tender all at once.”
JD: I didn’t write that.
JD: I didn’t write that collection of poetry. That was a different John Dolan.
BR: Are you sure?
JD: What do you mean, “Am I sure”? I’m not likely to forget a thing like that, am I?
Sheesh! It’s scary how your brain can live in such a small space.
BR: That hurts, JD. Well,regardless, I loved your book “Everyone Burns” and can’t wait for the sequel. People should really take a long look at you, my friend…
JD: ‘My friend!’ My butt is sore here, BR!
BR: Filbert and Salome are napping right now. I’ll untie you, but, please, no fracas here. Tit for tat, remember? Be gentle.