Friday, April 5, 2013

Review of Missing in Rangoon by Christopher G. Moore (Heaven Lake Press, 2012)

Some missing people don’t want to be found, some PIs don’t want to go where they might be hiding, and some parents don’t care about the wishes of the first two.  Rob is the former, hiding out in Burma (Myanmar) with his singer girlfriend, Vincent Calvino is the Thai-based PI who has little desire to travel across the border to find him, and Osborne is the persistent, rich, dying father who wants to be reunited with his wayward son.  At first, Calvino refuses Osborne’s pleas, but when his good friend, Colonel Pratt of the Thai police, asks him to accompany him on an undercover operation to find the source of methamphetamine trade, Calvino relents and takes on the case of finding Rob.  After years of being a closed society, Rangoon is just starting to open up, but it’s still a very different place to Bangkok and Calvino has little local knowledge, nor contacts.  It doesn’t take long to establish, however, that he’s not the only one looking for the missing man.

Missing in Rangoon is the thirteenth outing for Moore’s New York born and Thai-based PI, Vincent Calvino and the first in the series I’ve read.  I had no problems dropping into the series and the book works fine as a standalone.  The strength of the story is the nicely realised sense of place and the social, political and historical contextualisation with respect Thai and Burmese culture, especially the latter as it slowly opens up after years as a closed state, as understood by a well-embedded farang (foreigner), and there are some nice observational touches throughout.  The characterisation of Calvino and his Thai cop buddy, Colonel Pratt, are nicely done, though some of the other characters are little more than caricatures acting out cliched roles.  The plot was engaging and for the most part worked well, though there were a couple of moments that felt a little clunky, and at times there is too much show rather than tell, some of which was redundant with points laboured and repeated.  Overall, despite a couple of quibbles, an entertaining and enjoyable sojourn into complex terrain of Rangoon.

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