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Vulture Peak: A Royal Thai Detective Novel (Sonchai Jitpleecheep #5)

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  1,154 ratings  ·  166 reviews
Nobody knows Bangkok like Royal Thai Police Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep, but now he is heading out of his comfort zone. Way out. Assigned to the highest-profile case in all Thailand, he is tasked with ending international human-organ trafficking. His hunt will lead him across five countries and will draw in a host of unwitting players, including an aging rock star weari ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 21st 2012 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published July 5th 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,791)
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Jeffrey Keeten
”This system carries with it the unspoken implication that once someone has been defined as an ‘object,’ it is automatically assumed to be ‘promiscuous’ in the sense that it may be bought and sold like any other object, even if the object in question is somebody’s kidney or liver--or whole body. This kind of thinking is exactly what underpinned the slave trade for hundreds of years: as soon as a captive West African was defined as ‘property.’ then he could be treated as a ‘promiscuous object,’ t ...more
I love the collision of spirituality and worldly corruption in this series featuring Buddhist detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep in the sinful world of modern Bangkok. This 5th in the series is a satisfying addition to the saga. It widens the gyre by getting Sonchai involved in a murder case linked to the global illegal organ trade, with Thailand somehow in the middle between factions in China marketing body parts from executed prisoners and Western customers.

Sonchai tries hard to advance justice wh
Adam James
John Burdett was sitting there uncomfortably. He'd been in these meetings before. He tries his best smile despite his contempt. "I told you, I'm done with the Sonchai Jitpleecheep character. That's it. I've stretched it far enough."
"They really want you to write another one, John. It's a popular series."
"Yeah, but I mean, I'm ready to explore other areas in literature. Have you ever gone bird watching? It's truly magni--"
"John. Dead hookers. That's what the people want. You have a successful
I love these Thailand (mostly Bangkok) books by Burdett. Sure, I know he's a farang (he's taught readers we foreigners are called farangs by the Thai), but shows an appreciation of Thai culture that borders on obsession. This is his fifth Bangkok novel, after all. In his novels, Burdett makes fun of American culture seen from the Thai perspective so much that I think it would be fair to ask him: I would like to know how many Thai people Burdett has had sex with, which of the three genders has he ...more
2.5 stars. I love the characters and the setting for this series, but the books have been getting weirder (and they started off pretty damned weird). Sonchai’s personal life provides some grounding for the wacky yet sinister mystery/crime plots; this time the background is a layer of mistrust between Sonchai and his wife. Their relationship has never seemed real to me, though, so it wasn’t a satisfying counterbalance to the book’s outrageous aspects.

I was glad that the author omitted the superna
Kathleen McFall
Wow. Who knew that organ trafficking, empowered prostitution, sexy twins, dirty politics, infidelity and true love could be woven into such a compelling story? Wait a minute ... as I write these words it occurs to me: have I been conned? Are the salacious plot elements and the juicy narrative of Vulture Peak subliminally and callously constructed to ring all the most primal and secretive human bells? Is that writing or marketing?

Meh. Who cares. Not me because Vulture Peak is a good and gripping
I had a chance to read John Burdett's "Vulture Peak", this is my first exposure to his work and would look forward to reading the rest of the series which I believe totals five books crafted around his main character Thailand detective Mr. Sanchai Jitpleecheep.

The novel starts with a triple homicide in a very upscale neighborhood (Vulture Peak), in which not only are the victims brutally murdered, their organs, including their faces are removed from each. Sanchai's boss Colnel Vikorn, directs hi
Carl R.
John Burdett kind of exploded onto the thriller scene a few years back with his Bangkok 8, and he’s kept the adventures of conscience-ridden detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep flowing ever since. Vulture Peak is the latest installment.
Jitleecheep is a fascinating character. He’s half white--G.I. father--and his mother is a prostitute cum (pun intended) madame. Thus, he was raised in a whorehouse. His boss in completely corrupt, and his schemes to best a military rival in their competing criminal
Emily Crow
There's a good story in here somewhere, but overall, this book got on my last nerve. I thought the plotting was sloppy, with subplots and characters seeming to appear and disappear at random, and the protagonist, Sonchai, seemed rather incompetent. Also, the writing abruptly changes from past tense to present tense about a third of the way through, and I'm the kind of stickler who finds that sort of thing annoying.

Also, I found the book to be rather misogynistic. (view spoiler)
An explosion of 1) the grotesque and 2) male fantasy. The book is about the underground trade in body parts, so naturally you would expect the grotesque. A cooler full of eyeballs seems about right. And it's a popular mystery, so naturally you would expect people saying such tired old saws as, "I don't have to tell you what I'm thinking, do I?" and "You already know what I'm going to do." But the unexpected here is, first of all, some unusual characters who are a bit more complex than the run-of ...more
Burdett does something memorable in this episode of his Bangkok series (Sonchai Jitpleecheep #5). He introduces two of the most interesting character creations he’s had in years: the bipolar and incisively intelligent Inspector Chan of the Hong Kong police force, and the incomparably sophisticated Detective San Bin of the Shanghai police. Mind you, these two men are creations of a Western mind, but they are everything a reader wants in a detective: very smart and very sly, with an unparalleled s ...more
Every 'Bangkok' novel is a delight, and is written from a most unique perspective -- that of a male, middle-aged, married, Buddhist, Thai homicide detective who manages to keep his heart, soul, and mind intact through the horrors of his work and the all-pervasive corruption within the police force. Cultures and sub-cultures clash -- in this case, Thai, American, and Chinese -- and John Burdett spares us no aspect of the universal human condition. Humour abounds, too; there is genuine comedy in B ...more
Patrick McCoy

Vulture Peak (2012) is the fifth installment of the Thai Police Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep mystery series by John Burdett. I felt the need for something lighter for a break. I mostly enjoy Burdett's books for the exotic locales and here there's lots of that since there are forays from Bangkok to Phuket, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Monte Carlo. However, I have to say that the dialogue was really bothering me this time around. The characters started to blend together as their styles of speaking w
Don Schecter
The plots of volumes 1-3 were amazingly fresh and made me look for the next book. But Godfather of Kathmandu was a different book. Mystery took a back seat to the hero's investigation of his religious beliefs and I found myself learning a great deal about comparative Buddhism. Vulture Peak was a further departure: I stayed with it because I liked Sonchai, his extended family of characters, and the Bangkok ambience from the first four books. After waiting through two-thirds of the book for the st ...more
I look forward the arrival of each addition to Burdett's Thai series, even the somewhat weaker ones, such as this one. Sonchai Jitpleecheep is caught up in another mystery, the murder of three in a mountaintop estate that forces the detective to enter the dark world of organ sales. Of course he meets seductive women, trolls the underbelly of Thai (and also Chinese) society, and does the bidding of his powerful corrupt boss. It is scary actually to think that this type of thing actually goes on, ...more
Betsy Lewis-moreno
What a disappointment. I had so been looking forward to the latest in Burdett's Bangkok series. The story is disjointed with long rambling monologues and Wikipedia entries that do nothing to move the story forward or make us care about the characters. Familiar characters such as Lek and Vikorn drop in oh so briefly but then drop out again. We see glimpses of the Sonchai that I so enjoyed in the other books, but in too many instances it was hard to figure out exactly what he was doing and why. I ...more
Sonchai Jitpleecheep is a detective in Bangkok who works for a spectacularly corrupt and cynical superior. The superior, Colonel Vikorn, is in charge of a crackdown on the illegal body part trade at the same time that he seeks to make a fortune from it. Jitpleecheep, who is a very funny narrator and guide to a surreal world, has to be very careful while overseeing a sting operation. The fact that he has a Buddhist monk-like (except in matters of sexual activity) orientation on life (that means h ...more
Disturbing, weird, but still a page turner. This was like the first two novels in the series in terms of the flow of the narrative. Burdett does a lot of philosophizing about religion, capitalism, etc. The Chinese twins are pure evil and Sonchai meets some interesting police colleagues from China. You never know where the plot is going in this series. We jet to Dubai, Nice,and China tracking an organ ring but is that what we are really after? One never knows in this series. Given the duplicity o ...more
Annnnd here's where the series disappointed me :( It was if the author had lost the love of the character and the philosophies behind the series, and tried to do different things that kind of fought with the core of what he'd built? I dunno, it just felt like a whole different writer wrote this one. The plot and setting is, again, really interesting and fun, but opening the world in an odd way gutted why I loved the character. I guess I wanted more spiritual stuff, and this went to crazytown, wi ...more
The book keeps you guessing. Bangkok Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep is a dope fiend involved with a prostitute, who is working on her PhD, and assigned to investigate three mysterious murders in the tourist mecca of Phuket. The investigation quickly turns to an international organ-trafficking ring. His only help comes from his godfather-like boss and his transsexual assistant. The book is more adventure and less mystery. It does keep you guessing until the final chapters.

The story is more of a s
In John Burdett's fifth novel featuring Thai detective Sonchai Jiptleecheep, Bangkok's best and least-corrupt cop is once again tasked with a mission by his boss, Colonel Vikorn, Bangkok's most compromised officer of the law.

Vikorn has decided to run for governor, and that the best way to gain credibility among the voting populace after decades of using the public trust to enrich himself, is to solve a major organ trafficking case.

Sonchai soon find himself not only investigating three corpses m
Nancy Groves
Another good one in this ongoing detective series set in Thailand. This time, the police are on the trail of a ring of criminals who harvest human organs to sell on the black market. As usual in this series, high-level police officers and government and military officials are as likely to be involved in these criminal activities as the crooks they are ostensibly pursuing, which makes things difficult for Royal Thai Police Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep, who has more of a conscience than some of ...more
Galen Weitkamp
This is a brief review of two books by John Burdett and one by Paolo Bacigalupi. That’s right: two hard boiled detective novels and one futuristic science fiction novel. While purchasing Bacigalupi’s Windup Girl, I was informed that some people who bought Windup Girl also bought John Burdett’s Bangkok 8. I didn’t. Not right away. I read Windup Girl, liked it pretty much and said to myself, “What’s that other book people were reading?”

Windup Girl takes place in 23rd century Bangkok. There’s no l
Jevron McCrory
What a directionless mess of a book.

So a cop gets put on an organ trade case involving three homicides just to put his chief superior in office.

Turns out the responsible party is the obvious party from day one, something the 'cop' figures out with NO real police work involved whatsoever (minus a clever computer) and the story bores on with scene after endless scene of drugs, transsexuals, guns, erm, transsexuals, Bangkok bars, transsexuals, more drugs, identical twins, castration, drugs, transs
Another book in the Sochai Jitpleecheep series. Fan of the series, not the best of the series, felt like it could have used another look see from the editor, language was awkward at times. The case in this book focuses on the black market for transplant organs.
Rick F.
quite a fun and facinating read- great local and really involves the reader (the narrator addresses us throughout the book as have to read book to understand what DFR means!) quite a good entry in a very good series!
Hmm. It's been several years since I read one of Burdett's Sonchai Jitpleecheep books. So--I'm bumping what should be a 3+ book to 4, just because it was so much fun to go to Thailand and hang out with Sonchai and the gang, and look at the weirdness of Thailand (which may not be so weird, when you compare their values to the familiar farang behaviors).

The plot was a little thin--there's a lot more to be said about the morality of organ trafficking, but Burdett got side-tracked by twins and two
Toni Osborne
Book 5 in the Sonchai Jitpleeecheep series

I have read all the novels in this series and this one has to be one of the best so far. Just like the previous novels this one takes you through the seedier side of Bangkok, the streets where you meet fascinating people who compete aggressively to run and to work their trade and please the demands of foreigners.

Burdett’s fifth Bangkok novel opens with a very descriptive setting, the bizarre triple murder at a pleasure palace where Sonchai and his detec
Mal Warwick
Organ Trafficking, Prostitution, and Drugs in the Underbelly of Asian Society

When I read John Burdett’s first novel, Bangkok 8, I was hooked, and I couldn’t wait to learn more about its fascinating protagonist, the incorruptible Thai homicide detective, Sonchai Jitpleecheep. Bangkok 8 offered up a feast of intimate knowledge about Buddhism as practiced in Thailand, the local brand of animist superstitions, and the corruption that pervades every nook and cranny of Thai society, all revealed in th
Police Colonel Vikorn is running for office on an anti-crime platform, targeting illegal organ transplants. When three dead bodies show up in a mansion in Phuket, with their organs and faces harvested, it's ready made for Vikorn's campaign. And he won't have to develop an organ transplant syndicate to crush (that was his original thought). It turns out a pair of gorgeous and psychotic Chinese twins from Hong Kong have already done that with huge financial success, with the help of General Zinna ...more
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Crossover character in John Burdett novels? 1 12 Dec 16, 2012 09:59PM  
  • Slash and Burn (Dr. Siri Paiboun, #8)
  • Mandarin Gate (Inspector Shan, #7)
  • The Singapore School of Villainy (Inspector Singh Investigates #3)
  • Every Last Secret: A Mystery
  • A Nail Through the Heart (Poke Rafferty Mystery, #1)
  • A Trail of Ink (Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon Chronicles #3)
  • Summertime All the Cats Are Bored
  • Cripple Creek (Turner, #2)
  • A Grave in Gaza
  • Fairy Tales
  • Murder on the Île Sordou (Verlaque and Bonnet #4)
  • Bloodland
  • Creole Belle (Dave Robicheaux, #19)
  • Don't Cry, Tai Lake (Inspector Chen Cao #7)
John Burdett is a novelist and former lawyer. He was born in England and worked in Hong Kong; he now lives in Thailand and France.
More about John Burdett...

Other Books in the Series

Sonchai Jitpleecheep (6 books)
  • Bangkok 8 (Sonchai Jitpleecheep #1)
  • Bangkok Tattoo (Sonchai Jitpleecheep #2)
  • Bangkok Haunts (Sonchai Jitpleecheep #3)
  • The Godfather of Kathmandu (Sonchai Jitpleecheep #4)
  • The Bangkok Asset

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“Policing. You think you've got it tough. You don't have any idea how it was when I joined the force. The whole cake was divided down to the last crumb. The big boss got seventy percent, and the portions got smaller as you descended the totem pole. And no complaining. You learned to keep your mouth shut at all times - you wouldn't have survived the first week.

You see, what nobody tells you about capitalism is that its warlordism in disguise. That leaves the only job in the jungle worth having an apex feeder - the rest is slavery at various levels of discomfort. Socially, psychologically, we're still in the rain forest." - Colonel Vikorn”
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