Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Bangkok 8 (Sonchai Jitpleecheep #1)” as Want to Read:
Bangkok 8 (Sonchai Jitpleecheep #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Bangkok 8 (Sonchai Jitpleecheep #1)

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  6,330 ratings  ·  827 reviews
A thriller with attitude to spare, Bangkok 8 is a sexy, razor-edged, often darkly hilarious novel set in one of the world’s most exotic cities.

Witnessed by a throng of gaping spectators, a charismatic Marine sergeant is murdered under a Bangkok bridge inside a bolted-shut Mercedes Benz. Among the witnesses are the only two cops in the city not on the take, but within momen
Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 13th 2004 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2003)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Bangkok 8, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Bangkok 8

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonAnd Then There Were None by Agatha ChristieAngels & Demons by Dan BrownRebecca by Daphne du MaurierIn Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Best Crime & Mystery Books
294th out of 4,580 books — 10,475 voters
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan DoyleAnd Then There Were None by Agatha ChristieMurder on the Orient Express by Agatha ChristieDeath on the Nile by Agatha ChristieOne for the Money by Janet Evanovich
Best Detective/Mystery Series
165th out of 1,207 books — 1,458 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jun 16, 2012 Amanda rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: blog
Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep is the son of a Bangkok prostitute (insert your own inappropriate joke regarding the juxtaposition of the words "Bangkok" and "prostitute" here) and a U. S. soldier. As a result, Sonchai is able to walk in both cultures, but belong to neither, and to understand the differences between the farang (a term used for foreigners) and the Thai mindset. He's also a devout Buddhist, which prevents him from taking part in the openly corrupt practices of the Thai police force ...more
Bangkok 8 reads like the bastard offspring of a yaa baa-fueled brainstorming session between James Ellroy, Elmore Leonard, and a Buddhist monk gathered around a manual typewriter in a South Asian bar with slowly rotating ceiling fans in the late afternoon, about four hours before the impossibly beautiful whores (who may or may not be women) come out for karaoke and transaction.

Also, any book that features a male Thai Buddhist cop drunk and pole dancing to Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best” within
Contains spoilers:

I couldn't take seriously for a second this book and its "only honest cop" (wherever) cliche. I lived in Bangkok for 3 years and Burdett's perceptions of Bangkok and the Thais are facile and sneering, laced with cultural chauvinism (the two often seem to go hand in hand), with caricatures rather than characters littering this book. Through the mouth of his protagonist, Burdett expresses pretentious opinions and thoughts you're more likely to find in a pub in Liverpool than on t
HERE COME THE THAILAND BOOKS! I read all the books in this series while I was in Thailand, and besides the last one, I LOVED them. There's nothing better than being in a foreign country and reading a book SET in that country to live the flavor of both worlds more fully.

This is a mystery series starring a Buddhist cop who is half white/half thai, the son of a Thai prostitute. The cast is full of dirty and corrupt people you kind of fall in love with. It's violent and graphic and edgy and just re
Dec 20, 2014 Kdeuxoxo rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: NO ONE AT ALL
Shelves: for-school

The author (or should I say a cheap salesman/opportunist he claims himself to be?) talks as if he knew it all about Thailand and its way of living or thinking.

If you want a glimpse to the real Thai, this is not the book you're looking for.

Before I get to the part when I express my deep hatred for the book, I feel more than delighted to point out certain false facts that Burdett includes in Bangkok 8.

Disclaimer: I'm Thai and was born into a Buddhist family. Below is the explaintaion
We’re all exasperated with the police at one time or another. But in Bangkok, the pique is simply more acute.

“I used to buy whole trays of Rolex watches for police officers,” the city’s top sex tycoon complained to The New York Times recently. “I used to carry cash in black plastic bags for them. But they are still harassing me.”

In John Burdett’s thriller Bangkok 8, the half-Thai, half-American, all-Buddhist detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep -- as dry and charming as a good martini -- explains the
The novel Platform got me interested in the cultural political economy of sexual tourism, sexual encounter, and the sex service industry.

Then I heard about John Burdett's 4 novels (3 are out, he is writing the 4th one) based in Bangkok. Each is a detective story. The main character is what I call a "mixo" -- thai mother, african-american father. His mother is a retried sex worker, and he is a non-currupt detective who following the 8 fold path of Buddhism. The setting and plot are set within th
Mar 31, 2008 Sarah rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sarah by: Friends of the Library sale
I am so thoroughly amazed at this book. I had read interesting reviews about it, so when I saw this next to the next book (Bangkok Tattoo) at the Friends of the Library sale, I jumped on it.

Allow me to preface by saying that I love good crime noir book- one where the heroes are as flawed as some of the bad guys and things are gritty and the subject matter is dark. I also adore reading about other cultures where you are so enmeshed that it feels a little like culture shock when you turn the page
With a bang (or, rather, a venomous bite) John Burdett introduces us to the spiritual, yet corrupt, world of Bangkok policing, with the murder-by-drug-crazed-cobra of an expat African-American Army office in Bangkok. The attack also kills a police officer, and his partner/spiritual brother, seeks his killer. This reveals a colorful world of expat decadence, business-oriented prostitutes, corrupt cops, spicy food, Buddhism, hospitals specializing in transsexual operations, the jade trade, and som ...more
Mar 13, 2008 Tara rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who are really into thailand
i liked this book, but wasn't ultimately totally satisfied with it. i usually like to finish a fluff-type book like this with a feeling like "ahhhhhh that was good," but at the end of this one i just kinda felt like "meh."

i really liked reading about thailand/bangkok, given my obsession with the region, so that was cool. but the characters didn't really have a lot of depth (and were sometimes pretty implausible), and i wanted the plot to have more twists and turns and be more exciting.
Mar 11, 2013 Bill rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 1
Shelves: mystery-asia, police
Excellent introduction to John Burdett's Sonchaii Jitpleecheep mysteries. Set in a very exotic locale of Bangkok Thailand with so many interesting things going on; great characters, I loved the relationship betw Sonchaii and the FBI agent. I kept wanting them to get together. One of the strangest murders I've ever read; so much interplay between cultures, the American, Thai, Buddhism, etc. Fascinating story. Loved it very much. I will read more.
Darrell Reimer
The older I get, the more prone I am to borrowing from the library before I put down money for a book. I was especially hesitant to pick up John Burdett's Bangkok 8, fearing it would be the lurid and grotty sort of “Neon Noir” that British male authors seem to revel in: a cascade of depravity concluding with collapse. (James Ellroy, who writes the sort of novels I most dislike, calls this book, "The last, most compelling word in thrillers.") But the premise held appeal: a murder to solve, anothe ...more
This book was not what I expected. I thought it would be a thriller, or a detective novel. Rather, it is an insightful look into the sex & crime culture in Bangkok Thailand. The author writes (through the voice of the narrator) "This isn't a whodunit, is it? More like a whatwillshedonext." That's a perfect description of this book. You figure out the details of the crime as you read, but more importantly, you understand WHY things happen. And the WHY is in the context of the deep, philosophi ...more
A crime novel set in Bangkok and featuring a devout Buddhist detective, the son of a Thai bar girl (now retired) and a long-gone American G.I.

I loved the writing style and the protagonist’s narrative. Much of the novel takes place in Bangkok’s red-light district, which does not fail to be fascinating. The institutional corruption and cronyism in Thai society is shocking to the farang reader (who is occasionally directly addressed), but it’s made clear that one can do good within the system. The
Having stumbled on this series in my local library with Book 4 (The Godfather of Kathmandu), I became addicted. I put a request into the library for the remaining 4, and voila, they called. Now I'm racing thru them all, which is not hard. Burdett is a natural in the most fundamental tools of the genre storyteller, plot, atmosphere, character. We love these crazy Thai cops, whores, corrupt officials, and take pleasure in the dissing of the enemies, most of whom are from the United States or China ...more
Matt Carrell
I found Bangkok 8 in a bookshop at Suvarnabhumi Airport as I was waiting for a flight back to London. Unfortunately I did not start reading it straight away. That’s why I still had about an hour’s reading to do when we were only 30 minutes short of Heathrow Airport. For the first time in my life, I was praying for my flight to go into a holding pattern, I could not wait to find out what happened. It was one of those books you start to read more slowly as you get to the end, you just don’t want i ...more
dare i say, after nearly proclaiming book rape for having to read "bangkok haunts," i went easily and pleasantly through this, the first in the bangkok series. it's lighter on the preachiness and has fewer embarrassingly didactic monologues, and i was nicely surprised that, in this novel, unlike "bangkok haunts," burdett actually justifies the social and criminal threat in the information held by the blackmailer(s) against the foreign big wig. so yes, if you're up for a thriller bundled in a cul ...more
Barely 2 stars. I enjoyed the main character, Sonchai, and was sympathetic with his desire to avenge the death of his partner, but most of the other characters were either stereotypical or offensive. The FBI agent was a fantasy out of any hard-boiled detective novel, an apparently sex-starved beautiful blonde, lusting after Sonchai. Please. I thought the murderer was obvious pretty early on, so I probably would not have kept reading except that this was a bookclub selection. I did enjoy the refe ...more
I'm not a fan of police procedurals, I don't tend to read thrillers or murder mysteries much anymore, and I'm not necessarily fascinated by southeastern Asia. That said, I found this book to be amazing on so many levels. Burdett is an exceptional writer, capturing a remarkable sense of place, crafting complex characters (especially the intriguing first-person narrator), and writing about aspects of the Bangkok sex trade without seeming prurient. With a deft hand, he balances the elements of the ...more
You're either a fan of Thai prostitutes and that whole scene, or you're not. But if you're a Raymond Chandler fan, well, you'll just put this down and reread one of his.
Ian Connel
Could not finish. Got to within 40 pages of the end and was so dissatisfied that I could not care less what happened with all of the TV/thriller cliche characters. The main character seemed wimpy and disaffected but somehow had the rage to pursue his partner's killer. The female protagonist, of the privileged white FBI beauty archetype, inexplicably gets enamored with aforementioned sad-faced Thai. They walk around the city to get evidence and see lots of prostitutes. Whores everywhere! Apparent ...more
I love to read for the journey and the adventure of it and Bangkok 8 by John Burdett certainly provides an exciting adventure to, you guessed it, Bangkok. This is the first of a mystery series about Buddhist detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep and it is a great start, with an interesting main character, a great setting and a tantalizing mystery.

Sonchai is a mixed race Thai raised by his Thai mother who was a prostitute and an unknown American father. After having some trouble in his youth he was sent
This was your classic 3.5 star book. I thoroughly enjoyed it, though it had a few minor issues. Namely, one of the main characters - the beautiful FBI agent Kimberly Jones - was as 2D as it gets, and you could practically smell the popcorn and see the big screen her character was intended for. Also, for a thriller, it had a solid mystery but surprisingly few action scenes, and the climax was more plot than action. But the plot was interesting, the pace lively, and the main character and many of ...more
Joseph Halpern
When I think of Bangkok 8 I think of all the great literary novels set in foreign lands that have been criticised of overt racism and colonial indifference to smaller foreigh nations and their inhabitants. I think of all the movies and books deemed as classics by Western culture but are met with disgust and cries of racial insensitivity. Two examples that come to mind are Heart of Darkness and Bruce Lee's reaction to Breakfast at Tiffany's in the bio-pic Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. I think of t ...more
Now let's say the setting of a murder mystery is the local park. In a typical whodunnit, the protagonist is on the jogging track, a little behind the antagonist. He jogs along at a good clip trying to identify the antagonist, he suddenly dashes in to the grassy area to speak to someone sitting on a bench, the ice cream vendor gives a mysterious tip, the antagonist's goons rush on to the track to try and trip him up but he outwits them, he catches a faint glimpse of the antagonist just ahead, he ...more
Sep 30, 2007 Jessica rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of orientalist crime noir for the new millenium
I LOVED this book. Love, love, love, love, LOVED it. I guess I'd say it's closest to James Ellroy, transplanted to 21st century Bangkok instead of mid-twentieth-century Los Angeles. The detective here is a Thai Buddhist cop, a strong, stylish character who is outdone only by Burdett's spectacularly vivid depiction of this urban underworld. The book's got the style, seediness, and over-the-top sense of place of Chandler's best, but does this great recentering trick by choosing the slums and broth ...more
If a coworker hadn’t recommended this book, I probably never would have picked it up. And why he thought a book about a Thai detective and the Bangkok sex trade would be of interest to me, well….I guess I prefer not to go there. Anyway, for the most part, I liked the book; I’ll be happy to meet Sonchai Jitplecheep in another. I particularly admired his highly-entrepreneurial mother, Nong. There’s a dry humor to the book and because he has been trained in a Buddhist monastery, Sonchai offers us a ...more
Genine Franklin-Clark
I liked this very much. The setting, while exotic, was not off-puttingly (yes, that IS a word . . .now)"foreign", possibly because of the humanity of Thai policeman, Sonchai Jitpleecheep, a unique character. His Buddist attitude toward so much in his country (his beloved prostitute mother, the sex trade, the corruption of police and other government officials),imbued with a calm affection, is warming, and his determination to kill the person responsible for the death of his beloved partner, chil ...more
Nancy Cook  Lauer
Corruption, cynicism, Buddhism. How can you go wrong? I just love this guy! It's a police procedural, with a lot of Thai culture thrown in. Feels kind of like home ;-)
I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading others in this series.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Thirty-Three Teeth (Dr. Siri Paiboun, #2)
  • The Skull Mantra (Inspector Shan, #1)
  • The Queen of Patpong (Poke Rafferty Mystery, #4)
  • Wife of the Gods
  • Metzger's Dog
  • A Corpse in the Koryo (Inspector O, #1)
  • Queenpin
  • Jade Lady Burning (Sergeants Sueño and Bascom #1)
  • The Black Minutes
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 (5 books)
  • Bangkok Tattoo (Sonchai Jitpleecheep #2)
  • Bangkok Haunts (Sonchai Jitpleecheep #3)
  • The Godfather of Kathmandu (Sonchai Jitpleecheep #4)
  • Vulture Peak (Sonchai Jitpleecheep #5)
Bangkok Tattoo (Sonchai Jitpleecheep #2) Bangkok Haunts (Sonchai Jitpleecheep #3) The Godfather of Kathmandu (Sonchai Jitpleecheep #4) Vulture Peak (Sonchai Jitpleecheep #5) The Last Six Million Seconds

Share This Book

“Don't ask me when I first mastered the obvious.” 7 likes
“I don't want enlightenment, I want him. Sorry Buddha, I loved him more than you.” 7 likes
More quotes…